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Application of additive manufacturing to fine art sculpture

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conference contribution
posted on 27.03.2014, 10:55 by Fangjin Zhang, Ian Campbell, Ian GrahamIan Graham
Additive manufacturing (AM) has shown itself to be beneficial in many application areas, including product design and manufacture, medical models and prosthetics, architectural modelling and artistic endeavours. For some of these applications, coupling AM with reverse engineering (RE) enables the utilisation of data from existing 3D shapes. This paper describes the application of AM and RE within sculpture manufacture, in order to optimise the process chain for sculpture reproduction and relic conservation and restoration. This area poses particular problems since the original artefacts can often be fragile and inaccessible, and the finishing required on the AM replicas is both complex and varied. Two on-going projects are presented as case studies: a group of large scale sculptures of horses that will be created and installed in Ordos, Mongolia; and the repair of an antique from the Forbidden City in Beijing. The latter project in particular involves a wide range of artefact shapes and downstream finishing techniques. The combination of digital technologies and traditional art requires interdisciplinary knowledge across engineering and fine art. Also, definitions and requirements (e.g. ‘accuracy’), can be applied in both engineering and artistic terms when specifications and trade-offs are being considered. The paper discusses the feasibility for using these technologies across domains, and explores the potential for developing new market opportunities for AM. The paper finishes with conclusions about the feasibility, constraints, pros and cons of adopting AM in this area.



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


ZHANG, F., CAMPBELL, R.I. and GRAHAM, I.J., 2011. Application of additive manufacturing to fine art sculpture. IN: Renie, W. and Bocking, A.E. (eds.) RDPM 2011 - 12th Rapid Design, Prototyping & Manufacturing Conference (RDPM 12), Lancaster University, 17 June 2011, pp. 69 - 77.


© 12th Conference on Rapid Design, Prototyping & Manufacturing


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