Using 3D scanning to digitise artefacts for future study

Date:20 May 2014 Tags:, , , ,

Researchers at the Smithsonian Institution are bringing history back to life with 3D scanning technology. The experts use laser scanners to digitise artefacts for future study.

In this video, the researchers used 3D scanning technology to make a 3D-printed replica of early explorer Robert Kennicott’s skull. The replica was then passed on to a traditional sculptor to create a forensic reconstruction using traditional methods.

Conventionally, the original skull would have been used for that reconstruction; however, handling or putting clay on the skull puts the object at risk. By utilising the new technology, the original skull is preserved.

How does 3D scanning work?
Using a laser arm scanner very much like a bar code scanner, the experts projected laser lines onto a series of points on the skull to capture the geometry of it in real time. The laser beams then bounced off the skull and back onto a sensor. The time it took for the laser beams to bounce were equated to very precise measurements. Once they had a digital representation of the skull, the experts 3D-printed a replica of the skull.

More about 3D scanning
Get your hands on PM’s June 2014 issue (on sale 26 May) to read more about how 3D scanning technology is changing the way researchers and conservators investigate and display major scientific finds.