3-D tech prints world iconic heritage

Writer: Han Ximin  | Editor: 杨梅  | From:  | Updated: 2018-10-15

Experts visit the 3-D printed replica of the fore chamber of Cave 12 of the Yungang Grottoes Oct. 10.


An enormous full-sized replica of the fore chamber of Cave 12 of the Yungang Grottoes, a 1,500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site in Shanxi Province, has been cranked out by a Shenzhen company, according to a Shenzhen Special Zone Daily report Oct. 11.

The fore chamber consists of 48 facsimile pieces with a maximum length, width and height of 2 meters, which were printed by 20 3-D printers working non-stop for six months.

According to Bai Yunsheng, chairman of Shenzhen Meike Digital Technology Co., the company will complete the printing of the back chamber of the cave before rendering the colors with mineral materials using ancient traditional techniques. At that point, it will be the largest movable cave replica in the world using 3-D printing technologies, according to the report.

It is the second 3-D printed chamber following the West Empress Chamber, or Cave 3, which is the largest cave of the Yungang Grottoes, and was recreated using 3-D printers and state-of-the-art scanning technology in Qingdao last December by Zhejiang University and Yungang Grottoes Research Institute.

Compared to the 3-D replica of Cave 3, which weighs hundreds of tons, the facsimile replica of the fore chamber of Cave 12 weighs no more than 5,000 kg, and can be assembled and disassembled like blocks. It can be carried in five standard TEUs and assembled in a week.

“This is a remarkable achievement. The Yungang Grottoes is an art palace, but not many people get a chance to see it. This 3-D printed movable version will enable more people to see it at touring exhibitions,” said Zhang Zhuo, head of Yungang Grottoes Research Institute.

The replica of Cave 12 is expected to be put on public display next year, the Daily said.

The Yungang Grottoes near Datong City extend about 1 km, with 45 major caves, 209 secondary caves, and a total carved area of more than 1.8 hectares. There are about 1,100 niches and 51,000 statues, the largest of which is 17 meters tall, and the smallest just 2 centimeters. The Yungang Grottoes, which were added to the World Cultural Heritage List in 2001, contain masterpieces of Chinese Buddhist art from the 5th and 6th centuries.