The unbreakable stone age

The ancient Japanese vase had survived much in its 6,000 years — but withstanding researchers’ probing hands was probably asking too much. That led its owner to Mohawk College with a question: could the college produce an exact replica of the neolithic pottery on a 3D printer in its Additive Manufacturing Resource Centre?

Mohawk saw an opportunity in the project beyond the straightforward challenge of creating a 3D printed reproduction of a neolithic vase from Japan’s “Jomon” period. It was also a chance to develop and refine the potential of additive manufacturing as a tool for historical preservation.

To do that, they established a scanning process that used a high-resolution, hospital-grade Siemens CT scanner and researched a way to capture and combine the scanned data so that they could be converted into a workable format for printing. The final result is a reproduction vase made of Nylon 12 that captures all the intricate details of a clay artifact. While the original must be displayed behind glass, its new twin can now be touched and handled without concern.

“It’s very exciting to see advanced healthcare and advanced manufacturing technology being combined for a new and unique application such as archeological study,” said Jim Graziadei, managing director of Siemens Healthcare Canada. “We are honoured to have been a part of it.”

The project took approximately four months and two Mohawk College co-op students worked on it, spending their time manipulating the data and preparing the new file to be built on Mohawk’s Selective Laser Sintering machine. The pair can now say they worked on a world-first — in combining a healthcare tool with additive manufacturing.

The process developed for this project will provide a framework the Additive Manufacturing Resource Centre can use for future applied research projects. It could also be shared with companies doing 3D Printing commercially. The project also validated the high level of detail that can be achieved with 3D-printed.

Industry: Manufacturing
Funded by: Canada Foundation for Innovation

About Mohawk College

Mohawk College educates and serves 30,000 full-time, part-time and apprenticeship students at three campuses in Hamilton, Ontario. More than 1,200 international students from over 70... Learn more