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Creality 3d: how 3D printers can be used in Archaeology

August 31, 2019

3D scanners and printers have been used to help UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bolivia. Recently, a project developed by the Archaeological Team of the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to help rebuild the Tiwanaku site (500 - 950 A.D.) using 3D printing technology. In the future, 3D printers will be closely linked to archaeological projects!

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Let's first look at the archaeological team, how they successfully rebuilt the temple through a 3D printer, and how helpful the 3D printer is in rebuilding the temple.

I. Reconstruction and Protection of Cultural Heritage - The Ruins of Bolivia

Tiwanaku is a Bolivian pre-Colombian civilization known for its immortal architecture. Archaeologist Alexei Flanich decided to use a Lego-like approach to rebuild the Pumapengu Temple using 3D printing components. Because of its long history and serious damage, it is impossible to reconstitute all the existing parts of the temple without knowing its original appearance.

The Puma Penggu Temple consists of finely cut sandstone plates and andesite blocks. There are 150 scattered blocks, but none of them are in the original position. Because some of the surviving stones were too heavy to move, Vranich decided to make precise copies of them. In this case, 3D printing seems to be one of the most convenient manufacturing methods.

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In the past few years, some reconstruction attempts have been made, but they have failed. However, based on existing measurements and previous research, the team has been able to rely on past experience to start using 3D printing technology to reconstruct it. With the application of 3D printing technology, the contents of the temple can be well displayed. For archaeologists, scaling the model to 4% of the original site will help them get the details of reconstruction.

This is not the only time that 3D printing technology has been used to rebuild monuments or cultural sites. Previously, the arch destroyed by ISIS had been rebuilt using 3D printing technology. The application of 3D printing may have a great impact on our cultural heritage. It can make archaeologists more convenient to protect and repair many monuments.

Second, how did they do it?

Since they have completed relevant research and data collection in the past, they have not completely started from scratch. The data collected over 150 years have greatly helped the team of archaeologists. Happily, these data have also been translated into 3D information and used Sketchup to make the CAD design of Pumapenggu Temple.

The following is the 3D printing stage of the Temple Gate in Pumapenggu:

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How helpful is 3D scanning to archaeologists in this situation? As we know, because of the various architectural styles of temples, especially the complex geometric details, it is too difficult to restore them by traditional methods. However, 3D scanning can do this easily.


They will use FDM 3D printers and then use powder printing to recreate the Pumapenggu temple, where archaeologists must manipulate complex geometries. Finally, they have to assemble all the models themselves. The assembly of 3D printing archaeological models has good visualization, and they can constantly try new geometric manipulation methods to help them better to improve.

3. Why does 3D printing technology bring perfect solutions to archaeological projects?

With the use of 3D programs, it will be easier to build projects like this. It can achieve excellent visualization effect, and use the CAD program for all 3D printing iterations and all 3D modifications or simulations. 3D printing can obtain accurate objects and process very complex geometries.

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Fourth, is the 3D printer used for reconstruction or protection?

In fact, we can use a 3D printer to retain data and replicas before rebuilding the artifacts and structures. It's really useful for repairing fragile objects. For example, we see that museums can use 3D printing or 3D scanning to reproduce cultural relics and precious collections. The prospect of 3D printing in Archaeology and reconstruction is very broad. In fact, this project proves that it is possible to rebuild monuments with this sophisticated technology!

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