Paper-based 3D printing enables rebirth amid devastation
“If I had to choose between a plastic replica of Milo’s Venus, and a paper one, the choice would be obvious – paper.”
– Eric Lemaresquier, Workshop Manager, leFabClub
The destruction occurring in areas of the Middleast and in other regions of the world is massive.
That’s why Eric Lemaresquier set out to demonstrate that, with current technology and expertise, most of what has been destroyed, including ancient artefacts, can be restored to their original form.
Lemaresquier realised this project at leFabShop’s leFabClub in Paris, France, where he is the Workshop Manager. leFabClub provides training and support to future entrepreneurs by allowing them to accelerate their product development processes. Its members, who also include job seekers, are given assistance, technical training and private space to develop their businesses and grow their projects within a community of passionate creators and trainers.
As proof of concept for his project, Lemaresquier decided to employ a combination of photogrammetric scanning, 3D modelling software and 3D printing to accurately repair and replicate a damaged ancient bust of Suryavarman, King of Cambodia, whose legacy dates back to the 11th Century.
He and his team used the photogrammetric method of rotating the artefact while taking approximately 200 photos using a Nikon Reflex camera with a 45mm lens to digitally capture the bust in Autodesk’s free Memento photogrammetric software.
The digital model was then imported into Pixologic’s Zbrush modelling software. Zbrush enabled Lemaresquier to digitally fill in the bust’s holes and re-sculpt all of the missing details. He also used the software’s photographic capture tool to repaint the high-resolution photos he took back onto the model as a texture and was able to produce a very realistic digital model of the original bust.
It was then time to produce the restored physical 3D replica of the Suryavarman bust. Lemaresquier selected the Mcor IRIS SDL (Selective Deposition Lamination) paper-based 3D printer for this project because models made from paper feel like wood and have a much more pleasing and authentic feel. The Mcor IRIS was also chosen for its industry-leading photorealistic colour capabilities and low materials costs. “If I had to choose between a plastic replica of Milo’s Venus, and a paper one, the choice would be obvious – paper,” said Lemaresquier. “And, because of the IRIS’ high-resolution colour capability, it’s a no brainer! The cost of materials is lower than any other printers out there and the authentic feel and durability for artistic pieces that you get with the Mcor IRIS, you simply can’t get with plastics-based printers.”
Due to the large size of this piece, Lemaresquier and his team divided the model into three parts that they precisely assembled after 3D printing. The 3D printed model was then coated with a common, non-toxic white glue varnish from a local store.
Lemaresquier and his team are delighted with the results, a perfectly restored and precisely replicated statue of Suryavarman. “We are confident that this project will open new opportunities for the Mcor IRIS to be used in cultural, historic and artistic restoration and preservation for museums, governments and other organisations,” said Lemaresquier. “We are also exploring this cutting-edge 3D printing technology for packaging design. Mcor paper-based 3D printing is ideal for packaging prototypes because it is the only 3D printing technology that can produce photorealistic high-definition colour living hinges and, of course, the material most closely resembles that of many packaging products.”
While the challenge of how to stop the destruction remains, there is renewed hope that priceless symbols of culture, religion and art are not lost forever and can be enjoyed for generations to come.