The 3D craze

June 11, 2010

In the old days (which are still around sometimes),

White 'targets' have been temporarily applied to the corner of C 395 (Autumn Dew) to give the 3D scanner its orientations.

if you wanted to make a copy of something like the Tang Horses, you’d take an impression using silicone rubber or rubber latex or something like that.  It was/is a messy business that required a lot of preparation and even then sometimes damaged the artwork it was used on.

The laser scanner in use with real-time results being uploaded to the labtop so the operators can be sure they've gotten a full scan.
The 3D scanner in use, with real-time upload to the laptop, so the operators can check that they've gotten all the data. In the foreground, Mr Wang records the process for the Chinese media.

Technology to the rescue!  Now it’s possible to use a hand-held 3D scanner to map an object and then create an accurate copy using what’s essentially a 3D ‘printer’.  (Okay, that’s not a very scientific explanation, but it’ll do for now).  We asked our Penn colleagues at the Historic Preservation Program for some help producing 3D scans of the Horses and they came over in late May to do a test run.  The results were pretty impressive and  they’ll be back in early July to do a full scanning project.