World her­itage grotto printed with 3D tech

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA -

TAIYUAN — Sup­ported by 3D print­ing tech­nol­ogy, the mov­able replica of a cave in the Yun­gang Grot­toes, a 1,500-year-old UN­ESCO World Her­itage site, has passed ex­perts’ tests this week.

The Yun­gang Grot­toes Re­search In­sti­tute in north­ern China’s Shanxi prov­ince claimed it to be the world’s largest mov­able grotto printed by 3D tech­nol­ogy.

Weigh­ing less than 5 met­ric tons, the full-size re­pro­duced grotto is 14 me­ters long, 11 me­ters wide and nine me­ters high.

The project was launched by the in­sti­tute, Zhe­jiang Uni­ver­sity and a Shen­zhen­based com­pany, and it is based on the orig­i­nal cave No 12, also called “Cave of Mu­sic”, in the Yun­gang Grot­toes.

Zhang Zhuo, head of the in­sti­tute, said that this cave rep­re­sents the high­est artis­tic level of Yun­gang. It in­cor­po­rates carved stat­ues play­ing Chi­nese and Western mu­si­cal in­stru­ments.

The re­search team col­lected high pre­ci­sion 3D data and kept er­rors to within 2 mil­lime­ters. The main body of the replica was made of resinous ma­te­rial, and the print­ing process took around six months.

“We plan to color it with min­eral pig­ments be­fore the end of this year. In this way, the replica will main­tain its orig­i­nal size, tex­ture and color,” Zhang said.

The re­pro­duc­tion can be di­vided into var­i­ous parts and be pieced to­gether within a week. Zhang said that in the fu­ture it will be added to ex­hi­bi­tion tours with the in­sti­tute’s other cul­tural relics.

More than 59,000 stat­ues were carved in 45 caves in the Yun­gang Grot­toes, which was listed as a UN­ESCO World Cul­tural Her­itage site in 2001.

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