3D printing continues to assist in the preservation and restoration of historical relics, with industrial robotics and alternative materials offering even more potential. Chinese researcher Jia-zheng Zhu, of Nanjing Normal University, explores the topic further in ‘Application of 3D Printing Robot in Ceramic Relic Protection and Repair,’ along with alerting us to the sense of urgency in the matter of managing artifacts in China.
Zhu points out that while cultural relics have obvious historical and artistic value in China that must be preserved, they must also be duly protected from their physical environment. Fighting the elements is an ongoing issue in relation to ancient and older originals that we don’t want to see losing further integrity—but it is often a losing battle. And traditionally, repairing them also requires complex care by experts, employing intricate, time-consuming techniques.
3D scanning came along and almost magically erased issues in preservation, as pieces could be scanned and replicated—giving museums the option to lock away originals, almost like the concept of wearing paste jewelry while keeping the true valuables in a safe somewhere; in this case, however, there is no deception in making such copies as one, the public is generally fascinated in hearing about the technology—and two, replicas make a wide range of works more accessible to enthusiasts, curators, students, and research scientists.
Zhu states that both 3D scanning and 3D printing robots have already been in wide use and offer enormous advantages because they can collect data for making replicas without damaging relics such as those made in ceramic, and in making repairs they can be extremely accurate. Currently, industrial robots are performing tasks for repairs at Nanjing Museum