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Industry Insights| Cultural Relic Paintings in Song Dynasty are Restored by 3D Printing

The 13th China Chrysanthemum Exhibition was successfully held in Shanghai, China. As a part of the exhibition, the Painting and Calligraphy Art Exhibition of Chrysanthemum displayed a famous relic painting “The Gallbladder Flower Chart” restored by 3D printing technology.



Located in Shanghai Gongqing Forest Park, the art exhibition is divided into three areas, namely the historical area, the Shanghai-school district, and the contemporary district. In the historical area, visitors can appreciate classic chrysanthemum artworks from the Song to Qing dynasties through high-definition reproduction technology, and Longquan chrysanthemum petal porcelain of the Song dynasty, Meilan bamboo chrysanthemum white jade belt decoration of the Qing dynasty, and the silver chrysanthemum golden chrysanthemum pattern of the Qing dynasty. The most attracting part is that researchers used on-spot 3D printing to restore relic painting “The Gallbladder Flower Chart” from the Song Dynasty.

Though the restored cultural relics and ancient buildings cannot completely replace the destroyed cultural relics, 3D printing technology provides important technical support for archeological exploration and cultural relic appreciation. With 3D printing technology, some unique and precious cultural relics can be reproduced, which provides a new way for cultural workers to explore the origin of different civilizations and understand the historical context of different civilizations.




The examples of ancient cultural relics restored by 3D printing can be found in other countries as well. Earlier in August, 3D Systems utilized SLS 3D printing to restore the Woodcarving dragon of Great Pagoda at Kew Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens. The Maidstone Museum in Britain used 3D printing technology to reshape the face of a 2500-year-old mummy. Researchers from Harvard University, Oxford University, and Dubai Future Museum adopted 3D printing to restore the Ancient Roman temple in Palmyra, Syria, which was destroyed by ISIS.

Compared with traditional methods, 3D printing technology can often effectively achieve good results without damage when repairing cultural relics. When copying precious cultural relics, researchers need to use 3D scanning to digitally reconstruct the cultural relics and build a true 3D model of the cultural relics, then print the 3D model via a 3D printer. Finally, 3D printed models have to be finely post-processed. During the entire process, the probability of secondary damage to cultural relics due to human touch is low, and the artistic value of cultural relics can be restored to the maximum. Thereby, the beauty of classical cultural relics can be presented again.

In the future, with the continuous development and maturity of 3D printing technology, the archaeological research and cultural relics protection will enter a new historical stage. The cultural relics restoration will achieve more fruitful results with the combination of 3D printing technology and Internet of Things.