3D Scanning Sculpture Case Study – From ‘Hi-Res’ 3D scan to traditional foundry cast bronze!
Article by: Stuart Wright – 3D Scanning & Physical Replica Specialist
One of the things I love about what we do at ‘Superscan 3D’, is the wide variety of interesting and beautiful objects we get to scan and reproduce, either digitally or in a physical form. However, every once in a while we are asked to reproduce a piece that stands out from the rest.
The following case study provides a quick overview on such a piece from a private client, who has kindly granted us permission to show some imagery. This particular client loved their original sculpture so much, that they wanted another copy produced for their second home.
Our brief was to produce a 1:1 scale replica, that would then be traditionally cast in finest bronze by the UK’s leading foundry. However, what made this particular piece challenging was the fragility of the original sculpture, which had apparently been hand crafted in plaster in the late 1920’s. We therefore needed to take great care whilst performing the 3D scan, to ensure the integrity of this quite fragile piece. Of course, being a none-contact technology, high resolution 3D digital scanning was the ideal solution for this application.
Once the original bust had been very carefully 3D scanned, we then imported the RAW 3D scan data into specialist 3D sculpting software. This software enables us to clean up the RAW 3D scan data, in order to make everything perfect. This digital sculpting process is carried out by hand using many reference photographs of the original bust.
Once the digital mastering process was completed, the 3D digital master file was 3D printed at 1:1 scale using a high-end SLA printer. The completed 3D print then needed to go through a hand-finishing process in order to carefully remove any 3D print layering. This particular stage of the process takes many hours, carefully working the 3D print surface by hand, millimetre-by-millimetre, using reference photography of the original piece as our guide. This is a particularly tricky process as the 3D print wall thickness is only 3mm thick! Once the hand finishing is complete, the model was surface sealed ready for the foundry casting process stages.
The next stage is what I refer to as the ‘New to old technology cutover stage’, where our latest 3D digital technologies are integrated back to traditional foundry casting techniques. Foundry casting techniques have apparently been around since 4500-3500 BC, (the Chalcolithic period), but still continue to be used by leading bronze foundry’s to this day.
The bronze process consists of taking a mould of our hand-finished 3D print master, so that an exact ‘Lost Wax’ copy can be produced. The lost wax master is then used to create the final bronze casting mould, which is then melted out ready for the bronze pour stage.
Once the piece has been cast, it goes to the metal polishing/finishing stage, before then going to the final patina stage as can be seen in our video clip (below). The ‘Patina Artist’ skilfully applies the patina, in order to provide the particular finish required by the client (there are hundreds potentially finishes). Finally, the bronze receives a finishing wax and is then buffed with a soft cloth. The whole foundry process typically takes 6-8 weeks from start to finish, so not a fast process. However, the finished result looks amazing!
Finally, we would like to say a special thank you to our client on this project, for allowing us to show this fabulous art piece as it has progressed through the different stages. We hope it will provide them many years enjoyment in their new home.
The below video clip shows the bronze patination stage and the final finished piece.
If you would like to find out more about our services then please call Stuart Wright on the below telephone number.
Contact us to find out more! Tel: (01908) 915523