3D Printing Historic Architecture: Trials, Travails, & Successes

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It’s the 2010s. Surely, we thought, it would be a pretty basic and easy thing to take our field data from  Florence and 3D print it.

But no. It’s just not that simple.

There isn’t really a pipeline in place to take high resolution field data (like the LiDAR & SfM point clouds we collected in Italy) and just out an equally high resolution 3D printed model at the other end. The technology to do that isn’t really properly in place—there’s layer upon layer of decimation inbetween them at the end. So while, yes, it is possible to take a physical object, create a close digital simulacra, and then make it a physical object by 3D printing it. The new physical version is only a blurry ghost version of the original.

But what the heck, we tried it anyway. Mike & Vid patiently meshed the F out of the Baptistery data. Mike painstakingly turned broke the mesh apart into pieces our Tinkerine Ditto Plus could handle. And I coached the printer through the process of printing out our experiments along the way, as well as the final version–which premiered at the New Science Museum in Granada, Spain this fall  (2015) as part of an exhibition on Digital Heritage

The photos below track our initial Baptistery printing experiments in size, resolution, and various printer use variables. Enjoy.

 

First there was the miniature. Cute, but not of any particular structural analytical value–

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especially since the mini interior is only visible during printing itself…

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Remixing the mini Baptistery also led to a rather fun little Cthulu Baptistery…

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But really, we had to figure out a way to power up the model—and make it bigger. Thus making the size of our printer bed our worst enemy. Each piece needed to fit on the bed.

Thus the mid-size Baptistery-of-wedges was born.

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Flats were attempted at some point, but proved irritating to print and to sync up back into a whole architectural entity.

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Here’s our attempt at side-hooking the sides of the Baptistery together (also a no-go in the end. But kinda awesome in its own special way).

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In an effort to figure out how to splice the Baptistery effectively for both 3D printing and maintaining at least a semblance of its architectural glory, I printed out this model of the Cathedral at Rheims created in CAD using real measurements for a video game (Assasin’s Creed?). Oh the wonders that can be found on Thingiverse even on this early stage in the 3D printing game. (More on our other major experiment based on Thingiverse/Sketchfab finds here).

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We also did some interesting (and Instagram popular experiments with a temperature stablizer over the 3D printer)….

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And after many months of experiments and the exhibition looming ever nearer–we got down to business and 3d printed brass tacks:

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Some gesso priming, painting, gluing, and glittering later and voila:

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One thought on “3D Printing Historic Architecture: Trials, Travails, & Successes

  1. Pingback: The Activation of Archaeology | Adventures In Digital Archaeology

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