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Application of additive manufacturing to the digital restoration of archaeological artefacts

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journal contribution
posted on 16.08.2016, 14:12 by Fangjin Zhang, Ian Campbell, Ian GrahamIan Graham
A review of literature showed that published applications of Additive Manufacturing (AM) to digital restoration of archaeological artefacts was rather limited. This paper reports a substantial body of work that has been done in this area. It has been used to determine how AM and subsequent processes should be optimally applied, and introduces a series of process maps that have been generated to guide future practical work. The research methodology employed was predominantly action research, where the researcher undertakes practical work in a reflective manner to develop answers to specific research questions, with a combination of questionnaires and expert interviews used for validating the process maps. The results generated from the work indicated that archaeological artefacts can be characterised according to subject, material, complexity of shape, overall size, minimum feature size, and surface finish. The optimised application of AM and subsequent processes can then be specified in response to these requirements. The outputs from the research should prove to be valuable to anyone working in the field of digital restoration and fine art sculpture, particularly when digital capture of shape and the creation of physical replicas are required. The main contribution to knowledge is the characterisation of archaeological artefacts and the resultant process maps derived from this characterisation. However, the range of projects undertaken was not representative of every combination of artefact characteristics, and some requirements could not be met fully by current AM capabilities, so there remains a need for further research on process development.



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Published in

International Journal of Rapid Manufacturing






75 - 94


ZHANG, F., CAMPBELL, R.I. and GRAHAM, I.J., 2016. Application of additive manufacturing to the digital restoration of archaeological artefacts. International Journal of Rapid Manufacturing, 6 (1), pp. 75-94.




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© Inderscience

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This paper was accepted for publication in the journal International Journal of Rapid Manufacturing and the definitive published version is available at