The National Yunlin University of Science and Technology (YunTech) and the National Museum of Prehistory, which have teamed up to develop 3D technology for cultural heritage preservation, have now entered the stage of virtual restoration.
Described as "a third industrial revolution” by The Economist, can 3D printing technology shoulder the responsibility regarding heritage preservation and restoration in a world where the rate of disappearance of cultural assets is far faster than that of preservation?
Tseng Yung-kuan (曾永寬), chairman of YunTech's Department of Cultural Heritage Conservation, noted that the difference between 3D scanning and digital photography is that 3D scanning is able to record the three-dimensional form of an artifact and curves on the surface and save the data as a point cloud.
The current 3D scanning technology can be categorized into three categories: laser scanning, structured light, and photogrammetry. Each scanning technique has its pros and cons depending on the nature of the project.
For instance, laser scanning and structured light are better than photogrammetry in terms of resolution and accuracy, but photogrammetry tends to perform better when it comes to image quality. Thus, choosing the right 3D scanning technique based on the characteristics of the target object will deliver the best result.
The National Museum of Prehistory, which has launched a 3D digital archive of artifacts on Jan. 17, noted that the establishment of such an archive was made possible by scanning the contour and characteristic of artifacts with 3D scanning technology. It is another technical step forward for cultural heritage preservation, the museum stated.
Since 3D scanning technology has become more and more prevalent in recent years, other museums and cultural conservation organizations in Taiwan are also developing and establishing online 3D digital archives. In addition to recording cultural relics, 3D technology should be also applied to education and exhibition in the future, added the National Museum of Prehistory.