Use of the Additive Manufacturing method for the aesthetic restoration of archaeological ceramic and glass artefacts
This research seeks to investigate the properties, applications and limitations of the existing Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies and materials used, and to propose enhanced and efficient aesthetic restoration treatments for ceramic and glass archaeological artefacts.
The basic goal of the aesthetic restoration is to present the existing parts of the artefact by improving the legibility of the form, respecting at the same time the authenticity and history of the artefact. Traditional aesthetic treatments in archaeological artefacts include the re-modelling of the missing parts. The end result depends, to a great extent, upon the skills of the conservators, since they produce the missing parts of the artefact, giving a more subjective aspect to the whole process.
Nowadays technological advances, such as the AM method, can produce more objective results in the restoration of the missing parts improving and advancing the aesthetic restoration treatments. The advantage of the AM method is the opportunity to create 3D objects with unlimited freedom in design and flexibility, with complex-shaped forms. However, no study has been made, as yet, to verify the properties of the materials used and their suitability for conservation treatments. Taking into consideration the requirements that the material used as fillers with the traditional methods, the AM materials have to be tested, regarding their reversibility and re-treatability, strength, density, durability, shrinkage, thermal expansion and long-lasting performance, which will not affect the original artefact.
This research will greatly benefit conservators of antiquities and works of art, museum curators and material scientists, as it will address issues regarding the impact of digitisation, AM technologies, presentation, storage means and suitable environmental conditions of the restored artefacts. AM is an ideal method to re-create more accurately the missing parts of cultural heritage artefacts. Having also the knowledge of the material properties and limitations, AM can be the method that conservators can use to present the artefacts, without the risk of further deterioration.