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Antique artworks all over the world are not as timeless as it seems. Usually, museums will hire renovators or restorers to periodically maintain the artworks or sometimes hire them to bring back what is special and unique in old antiques to life, just like creating arts. Today, with 3D printing technologies, there is a new way to restore these invaluable pieces. A restorer can now work with an experienced and professional 3D prototyping manufacturer to get the restoration done more quickly while retaining authentic glamour. Mattia Mercante, a renowned restorer of cultural heritage, has been utilizing 3D scanning and 3D printing to restore precious artworks from many brilliant Renaissance artists and sculptors, such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. These modern digital tools enable restores to emulate the virtuosity of the masters and bring back some complex details that could be seldom possible by means of other techniques. SLA rapid prototyping and many more digital tools are opening new possibilities for the splendid treasure of ancient culture and art to relive.
What’re the Processes of Restoring Artworks Using SLA Rapid Prototyping?
1. Evaluation of Art Pieces
The first step is the restorers cooperating with the qualified technical inspectors to assess and judge the condition and state of the artwork. It is an essential step in a restoration project as it helps them determine restoration solutions.
2. 3D Scanning
After evaluation, the following crucial step is scanning the artwork using an advanced scanning system. For example, in painting restoration, a photographic scanning system can capture high-resolution, three-dimensional images of fine art paintings. The paintings are first visualized in 3D through the scanning system, using two cameras and fringe projection, which allows for unrivaled detail and speed. The renderings show, in microscopic detail, the topography of the painting, exposing heaps of paint accumulated on canvases and brushstroke length and type used by the artist. The images can thus unveil stylistic approaches of master artists. If you are working with a professional 3D prototyping manufacturer to create prototypes of your restoration works, the scanning system used is usually specially selected to cater to your project.
3. 3D Printing
Following the scanning, the restorers can further analyze the issues of the artwork and find out possible enhancement. Then they create documentation, create 3D modeling, and use 3D printing to create prototypes for pre-visualizing restoration results and controlling restoration quality. When restoring a painting, using a high-resolution 3D printer can create accurate digital image replication, paralleling every minute detail, including tactile features such as rough stacking of brush strokes.
Actually, there are many 3D printing techniques for creating prototypes in artwork restoration. But SLA rapid prototyping is preferred by many restorers for its capability to create a prototype of high detail and great surface quality. Besides, it has potential in printing casts that can serve as adornments and parts in the original pieces.
Can SLA Rapid Prototyping Help the Restoration of Notre-Dame?
When the most famous cathedral in the world - Notre Dame - caught fire on April 15, the world held its breath. The 850-year-old Gothic building suffered enormous damages, with its roof and spire almost completely being destroyed. In the aftermath of the disaster, lots of discussions about restoration and reconstruction have been raised by specialists in all fields, such as the architect, culture relic restorer, even the 3D prototyping manufacturer and 3D printing technology researcher.
The restoration & reconstruction work is undoubtedly beset with difficulties. Some historical materials needed for constructing the cathedral, including enormous Beachwood beams and the Lutetia limestone, are rare now. Faced with these problems, many modern architects have pointed out whether it is necessary to restore Notre Dame as close to its original state as possible. Or would it be more efficient to use 21st-century capabilities - 3D printing - to tackle 14th-century obstacles?
The cathedral has an almost complete digital record. With this digital information, it would be possible to recreate parts of Notre Dame with 3D technologies such as SLA rapid prototyping more efficiently and at a lower cost. And as the French Government has set a five-year reconstruction goal, this method may be more realistic than collecting and using all needed historical materials. The combination of digital information, historical design, and advanced 3D printing technology can create perfect replicas that are absolutely no less striking than old parts and can retain the historical charm and authenticity of the cathedral.
The Future of SLA Rapid Prototyping in Art Restoration
Many restores are hesitated and uncertain to use SLA rapid prototyping process or other new tools in their restoration works although it can make their works a lot more efficient and easier. Because they hold such misconceptions that restoring artworks by means of 3D scanners and 3D printers is mechanical and would deprive the human element of the artworks thereby making them less charming and mysterious. But, with the increasingly developing 3D printing technology - both the 3D prototyping manufacturer and researcher are working on it with great dedication - this skepticism is diminishing.
The most important thing is to preserve all those invaluable artworks. If the 3D technologies and other digital tools are improved towards this aspect, they would be welcomed eventually and become an integral part of the technical toolkit for more and more restorers.