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3D scanning of biblical proportions!

3D scanning of biblical proportions!

The Centre de conservation du Québec is the leading conservation centre in the province of Québec—and a real gold mine for hidden treasures and artefacts. I was actually looking for a location to take pictures with the peel 3D affordable scanner when I visited centre and came across a particularly interesting 3D scanning project.

A large-scale statue of Alphonsus Liguori immediately caught my eye. Saint-Alphonse-de-Liguori was a Catholic bishop, founder of the Redemptorists, the community that administered St. Patrick's parish in Québec City from 1874. Dressed in the attributes of a bishop and holding a stick, the statue makes a gesture as if he is blessing someone. It was made of a wooden core covered with metal sheets (copper, steel and…lead!). This manufacturing technique was very common in Québec in the late 19th century.

Despite the best efforts to preserve statues like this one, wear and tear inevitably reared their ugly heads. Why? The statues were originally installed outside and exposed to weather (did I say weather can be harsh in Canada?). Water from the rain, snow and even condensation eventually found its way and significantly deteriorated the wooded structure.

Classical restoration of a similar piece would normally involve hundreds of hours of labor and removal of the metal wrapping, an operation especially delicate to avoid all possibilities of lead contamination. Such a restoration is, unfortunately, a very costly endeavour for parishes, which generally have limited budgets.

This is where peel 3d, an affordable 3D scanner with professional-grade features comes into play with a brand-new approach to 3D scanning. Instead of restoring the original piece, the plan would be to create a geometrically-exact replica. We started by 3D scanning the statue using peel 3D. The entire process only took minutes and, once cleaned and finalized with peel 3D’s scanning software, we generated an accurate model that was ready for CNC machining.

peel 3d managed to catch the finest details, the only issue was that the statue had been scanned in its deteriorated state and flaws and defects were also observable in the scan as well…

This is where virtual restoration came into play! We exported the data towards Sculptris and virtually corrected the different flaws until we obtained a model as perfect as the original. Data is corrected very similarly as you would using a clay model—but with full control and no limitations (for one thing, I’ve never seen a clay model with an undo button 😊).

The result is a stunning, high-quality, high-resolution, and accurate replica model that is ready for machining.

Here is the final result.

All peel 3d sample files (including this one) are available on our Sketchfab page.

The plan is to revive this treasure by bringing it to the 21st century and building an exact replica using modern materials, better adapted to the environment. Using accessible material and modern technology will also make it significantly cheaper to manufacture a brand-new statue than restoring the original model. Using the peel 3D affordable scanner, we also separately scanned and virtually restored the staff.

Another very positive aspect of having a virtual model is that we are able to scale it. If required, the parish could 3D print a smaller version of the statue.

There are dozens of similar statues in similar conditions in Quebec and around the world that could benefit from a similar treatment. Parishes and other conservation centres can showcase very accurate replicas of their religious heritage by using the professional-grade peel 3D scanning technology while preserving the original works in a proper conservation environment and keeping their costs in check.