Bringing New Life to Old Objects
One of the key elements of antiquing is that you seek out the unique and the rare. Shows like Antique Road Show highlight the value of finding something that is one of a kind. And while the acquisition of the object is half of the excitement, for many having the object in peak condition and restoring the antique is a thrill. But what do you do when you have something that is hundreds, or even thousands, of years old? It is not as if the replacement parts will be on the market, and if they are they will likely be as expensive (if not more so) then the value of the antique. The solution, of course, is to use 3D Printing.
Recreation vs. Restoration
Before you begin on your restoration project, you need to determine if you will be restoring or recreating the antique. Some artifacts are ok to have new pieces added to them. Metals are exceptional when it comes to this form of restoration. However, you should keep in mind that soft materials, woods, and metals which have shown severe rust or corrosion, may become more compromised if new elements are added. In such cases where this is true, using a 3D Scanner alongside industry standard 3D Software is advised.
Best Restoration Projects for Antiques.
The best restoration for antiques are those objects which have no value if they are not restored. Such would be true of antique cars, some pottery, jewellery, and mechanical devices (such as music boxes). When restoring these antiquities using 3D Printing, try to match the material if possible, meaning that if you need to print using a Metal 3D Printer, you do so. If printing for wood, ensure that you simulate the grains of the wood in the model so that when painted or stained, it appears natural. You do not want to have something new mixed with something old competing. It should all flow together nicely.
Woods is perhaps the hardest material to restore. Metals are easier, as you can commission the part to be 3D-Printed out of the same/or similar metal which was originally used. You can also print the parts with nylons and polymers and then use gold brushing, silver brushing, and metal paints to give it a tarnished/vintage look.
Steps for 3D Antique Restoration
When restoring antiques using 3D Printing, there are a few steps which will ensure that the overall design is perfect. First, gather as much information about the product as possible. Secondly, use a 3D Scanner to capture the pieces and put them into your 3D software program. It is important that you have an expert analyse the antique’s integrity before trying to print and adhere any new pieces to the antique.
Important Note: Do not use epoxy and glues on any antiques without fully understanding how the chemicals in those compounds may affect the integrity of the object being restored. Objects which are hundreds and thousands of years old may be corroded by modern adhesives. If possible, secure the new pieces snugly with connectors and/or fasteners rather than glues and chemical mixtures.
3D Model Considerations
When modeling out your restorations for your antique, ensure that you keep the poly count as low as possible. It is also very important that you render several images and compare the intentional output to that of the historical pictures and data available.
Antique Restoration used for Museum Antiques
CGTN reported that 3D Printers were responsible for the restoration of a 2000-year-old sword. The sword, an artifact from the Han dynasty had substantial damage. The sword was so damaged that the Beijing University restoration could only use pictures from historical data. It took 2 months of research before a 3D Scanner could be used on the existing parts. It then took additional time to build the missing parts for the sword. The parts took a week to print out of nylon powder, PLA plastic and resin. Finally, hand merging and painting of the pieces and gave it a look similar to what it may have looked like originally.
Acquiring Downloadable Parts–
While it is rare, you may be able to download 3D Print ready parts. More often, you will need to have a 3D artist design the piece for you. When you do so, ensure that you provide all the information about the original antique as possible. The model should be presented in quads, layers, and to scale.
Note: These methods of restoration are for suggestion purposes only. Please proceed at your own risk. We assume no responsibility for any damage or loss resulting from this publication. If you have issues or concerns, please contact a restoration professional.