A visiting professor of anthropology at Miami University is using 3-D scanning and printing to create replicas of ancient artifacts, including two that were stolen from the department last June.
Last spring, before the items were taken, Jeb Card scanned the 19th century pipe and a painted effigy vessel from the Greater Nicoya region of Costa Rica. The scans stored their digital information on his computer.
With the use of a new color 3-D print at the B.E.S.T. Library, Card printed replicas of the objects with the same dimensions and colors. The printer puts down layers of gypsum powder and coats them with ink, creating a denser, more detailed replica than other 3-D printers on campus that produce plastic replicas.
"This is obviously a significant thing for us, to revive a lost object through this technology," Card said.
This is the first semester Card has made 3-D scanning a standard part of archaeology courses. He expects to have 40 students using the scanner by the end of spring semester to produce replicas of various artifacts that may eventually become part of a virtual online museum he plans to build.
Card's goal is to supplement normal study by making objects more accessible to his students and, in some cases, showing them how they were originally used.
3-D printing technology has been around since the 1980s, but the technology has only recently been made widely available.
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