Preserving Artifacts with 3D Printing

As 3d scanners become more ubiquitous, some of the world's leading cultural institutions have decided to embrace the technology.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The British Museum and The Louvre Museum all encourage the scanning of their collections or have hosted events at their museum designed for visitors to create digital archives of their collections with scanners.  This encourages a new way to engage with history's most important artifacts while simultaneously creating a backup library in case something happens to the artifiacts and they need to be recreated.

British Museum 3D Printing

We can now add the Cambridge University Library to the mix of institutions relying on 3d scanning and printing to breath new life into antiquities.

Researchers from the Cambridge University Library have created the first 3D printed replica of a Chinese oracle bone, thought to be 3,000 years old. Normally 9-by-14-centimeters, the ox bone is one of the oldest surviving documents written in the Chinese language.  The oracle bones provide an understanding of Chinese culture dating back thousands of years, including one of the earliest known recordings of a lunar eclipse in 1192 BCE.

"To hold a 3D print of an oracle bone is a very special experience, as it provides the same sensory impression as that obtained by the people who created them over three thousand years ago," said Charles Aylmer, Head of the Chinese Department at Cambridge University Library.

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