Spanish sustainable infrastructure company Acciona recently teamed up with Spain’s National Archaeological Museum (MAN) to 3D print a full-scale replica of the San Pedro de las Dueñas Arch, built as part of the eponymous monastery in the 12th century. The 3D printed arch, placed in the museum garden, is said to be the first piece of architectural cultural heritage to be replicated using concrete 3D printing.
While the industrial advantages of additive manufacturing are becoming increasingly clear, new applications are also opening up for the technology beyond the aerospace, automotive and medical industries. In the art and archaeological spheres, for instance, 3D printing and digital technologies are playing an important role in the preservation and restoration of cultural artifacts.
Perhaps the most publicized example comes from Syria, where 3D scanning and printing have given new life to the ancient Palmyra Arch, which was destroyed by ISIS. Of course, there is no replacement for the lost original, but many find the symbolic value of being able to rebuild the arch to be inspiring.
In Spain, 3D printing is now being used by Acciona and MAN to not only help preserve Spain’s historical heritage but to raise awareness about the country’s rich history and culture using cutting-edge technologies.
The project not only represents an intersection of old and new: it also highlights the importance of collaborations between the private and public sectors. By working together, MAN and Acciona have demonstrated how 3D printing, 3D scanning and other digital technologies can contribute to the preservation and accessibility of culture heritage.
3D printing the Dueñas Arch
Dating from the early 12th century, the original Dueñas Arch is a Romanesque arch that measures 2.2 meters in height and 3.3 meters in width. The original structure is part of the MAN’s Romanesque collection, which also comprises other architectural and sculptural items.
In reproducing the arch, the partners wanted to recreate the look of the architectural structure as well as its function, making it suitable for outdoor installation. In the end, D-Shape’s construction 3D printing technology was used for the job. The finished arch was recently unveiled in Madrid.
In addition to 3D printing the full-scale arch, Acciona and MAN also teamed up to 3D scan a total of 30 works from the museum’s medieval collection. The selected pieces are some of the museum’s most notable items and date back as far as the 4th century. Visitors to the museum can see the detailed 3D scan of each item using a touchscreen interface in the Medieval room. In the future, the 3D models could be physically reproduced using 3D printing.