3D Scanning Sculpture Case Study – From 3D scan to traditional foundry cast bronze
Customers ask us to scan and reproduce a wide variety of interesting and beautiful objects. However, every once in a while we are asked to reproduce a piece that really stands out. 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 a second home.
Our brief was to produce a 1:1 scale replica, to be traditionally cast in finest bronze by a UK leading bronze foundry. However, what made this particular project challenging was the fragility of the original sculpture, which had apparently been hand crafted in plaster by the Artist in the late 1920’s. We therefore needed to take great care whilst performing the 3D scan, to ensure the integrity of this very fragile piece. Of course, being a none-contact technology, high resolution 3D digital scanning provides an 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, 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.
Contact us to find out more! Tel: (01908) 915523