3D optical scanning
The Foundation’s work of preserving and disseminating cultural heritage in the area of monuments presents us with a number of challenges in creating 3D models of monuments and artefacts of history. Wanting to set the standards of digitisation in this area, we have been successfully using first-class equipment and solutions for several years.
One such solution is 3D optical scanning. This is the non-contact process of analysing a real object (or environment) to collect data on its geometry (shape) and colour, and then using this data to build its digital equivalent.
This type of scanning works on the principle that the projector in the 3D scanner projects a characteristic light pattern, which deforms on the variable geometry of the scanned object. The cameras in the 3D scanner read the geometrically distorted pattern and, by comparing it in real time with the pattern, the computer is able to reconstruct the scanned surface as a point cloud. The point cloud is then converted into a triangular mesh, which is the target digital representation of the real object.
The 3D model of the scanned object obtained in this way can be successfully used in many ways. It can be used by reconstructors and restorers to recreate the original appearance of an artefact when it is destroyed, we can use the 3D model to create a physical copy of the object and make it available to a wider audience (e.g. on 3D printers or CNC machines) or digitally visualise it and make it available to anyone in the world who has access to the Internet.
This opens up virtually unlimited possibilities in sharing exhibits and collections of works and spreading cultural awareness. 3D scanning is particularly important for the digitisation of three-dimensional forms such as sculptures, bas-reliefs, monuments, etc., where the most important task is the faithful reproduction of their geometry.
Geometry alone is not everything, of course. The technology we use also allows us to collect colour information, which translates into a faithful reproduction of the appearance of the scanned object. An additional advantage is that in our operations, we do not need to apply markers, i.e. stickers, to the object, which allow the scanner to ‘find itself’ on the scanned object.
Differentiating between variable geometry and colours aids this process. This is very important when scanning artefacts and historical works, which are often extremely delicate and direct contact with them could end badly.