Replicating an Ancient Artifact: Exhibit Highlights 3D Printing in Action at the U

As part of the research for a current exhibit at the Lowe Art Museum, Kay Pacha: Reciprocity with the Natural World, curator Dr. Traci Ardren collaborated with Dr. William Pestle, a faculty member in the Department of Anthropology, and anthropology student Adam Sticca to gain insight on how ancient Andean people made and used the art that would help tell the story of their lives 2,000 years ago. By creating a 3D replica of one such piece, an ancient Peruvian whistling vessel, the researchers were able to carry out intensive study of the artifact’s qualities in ways that could not have been done with the fragile original.

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UM researchers used the Digital Media Lab‘s 3D printer to replicate an ancient artifact from the collection of the Lowe Art Museum.

The 3D print, created in Richter Library’s Digital Media Lab through CT scan images they provided to the lab, is now on view on the first floor of Richter Library.

“From an archaeological perspective, 3D printing capabilities allow for more intensive study of an artifact free from any destructive processes which would damage the original piece,” says Adam Sticca, a freshman in the Department of Anthropology. “In this specific case, the printed replica allowed us to more closely examine the complex structure inside the hollow base. The process took a fair amount of trial and error in order to properly print the object as a hollow structure. This printed replica serves as a shining illustration of the capabilities and applications of 3D printing technology now offered at the library.”

Kay Pacha: Reciprocity with the Natural World is on view at the Lowe Art Museum through July 2, 2016. To learn more about 3D printing, including how to use it for your projects, stop by the Digital Media Lab and sign up for a 3D printing consultation.