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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.

original size statue

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…

details of a statue 3d scan with peel 3d scanner

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.

statue 3d scan results with peel 3d scanner software

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.

Taking peel 3d to higher grounds … literally!

Taking peel 3d to higher grounds … literally!

It was a bright sunny day when I arrived on site to give Rino Côté a hand with his artistic project. We’ll scan parts of a tree in a nearby public park, he said. It was an old ash tree that had been devastated by the emerald ash borer, a tragedy really! Rino’s plan was to turn whatever was left of this once-majestic tree into a work of art. POP! He called it. The idea was to attach bright-red bubbly foam to certain areas of the tree as if whatever life left in it was slowly fizzing out, ironically making this dead tree look more alive…

Rino’s original concept for POP!preparing a 3d scan of a tree

His plan was to scan certain areas of the tree and use the 3D data to design custom made 3D printed parts that would later get attached directly to the wood. The project was challenging enough and not too far away; I just had to say yes!

The tree had been stripped of its bark and branches, it looked like a telephone pole really, but it was only when standing in front of it that I realized the height of the thing; it was huge! A few hours into the project we were 25 feet in the air, standing on 8 inches-wide planks at the top of a scaffolding. It was then that I realized that I didn’t so well with heights. Don’t look down, don’t look down… Luckily the scanner was working great! We were able to bring it up with us and scan the different areas needed for the project.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it was a hot day. Besides staying well hydrated, we had to provide the scanner with a bit of shade for it to work right. We did using opaque fabric scraps. It was the worst possible light conditions, but it worked hence answering the question: “Can you use peel 3d outside?” We had access to a simple extension cord to power the laptop and scanner; a generator or battery would have worked as well. We made it safe and sound.

The different parts were designed using TINKERCAD (for the bubble shapes) and Geomagic (for Boolean operations), and printed in red PLA All the parts were also prepared and coated with a special varnish UV block  for the sometimes harsh weather in Canada before being attached.

Final parts before being installed:

bubbles produced after de 3d scan

Needless to say, the parts fitted perfectly, the masterpiece is now complete and “exposed” to the Jacques-Ferron cultural center in Longueuil. Here is the final look:

Complex fit of an installed custom-made part. second view of a tree project after a 3d scanning