In Italy, 3D printing and scanning technology has helped to restore the south doors of the Baptistery of Florence, built around 700 years ago.

The Baptistery of Florence was constructed sometime between 1059 and 1128, making it one of the oldest buildings in the city. Significantly, the building is renowned for its three sets of artistically important bronze doors with relief sculptures.

The south doors are the oldest of the trio, designed between 1329 and 1336. Through its 28 intricately detailed panels, the doors depict the life of St. John the Baptist, to whom the Baptistery is named after. They measure over 5 metres high by more than 4 metres wide.

Made from bronze, the doors were suffering from deterioration due to weather and pollution. Therefore, as part of a cultural preservation project sponsored by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, it was decided to replace the ornate bronze doors with exact replicas.

A 3D scanner was used to digitally capture the doors for replication, and the scanned data was then used to 3D print models of the different parts of the doors. Ciglia e Carrai, a company specializing in fine art casting foundry, used the 3D printed panels to create moulds for pouring wax into. They then melted them in bronze to create exact replicas of the original panels. Finally, the team at Ciglia e Carrai chiselled the panels to reconstruct all the minor details of the original doors, before merging them and the frames together to finally reproduce the south doors in full.

3D technology, encompassing 3D scanning and 3D printing, has become the method of choice for individuals and organisations seeking to restore, reproduce and preserve historical artefacts. This is because the technology allows for the manufacture of detailed replicas without causing any damage to the original artwork or sculpture.

In 2019, for example, a 2.2-metre-tall replica of the San Pedro de las Dueñas Arch was placed in the garden of Spain’s National Archaeological Museum (MAN) in Madrid. The monument was made to help demonstrate the potential of emerging technologies and their role in historic preservation.

Excerpt of full article from 3dprintingindustry.com.