As 3DPrint describes, in 2001, the Yungang Grottoes were included by UNESCO in its World Cultural Heritage list of historical sites. The grottoes, located in the city of Datong in China northern Shanxi Province, “contain 252 caves and niches, and 51,000 carved statues, and are considered to be a classical Chinese masterpiece.” Among the 1,500-year-old grottoes are three specific Buddhist statues.
Now, those three statues have been replicated using 3D printing. These full-size replicas are currently on display in the coastal city of Qingdao. This project was spearheaded by a one-billion-yuan investment by the Qingdao Publishing Group in conjunction with Zhejiang University and the Yungang Grottoes Research Institute. “The middle replica is 10 meters tall, and the two 3D printed statues flanking it are six meters.” Zhang Zhuo, Head of the Yungang Grottoes Research Institute marvels, “it’s hard to believe they are reproduced. They look so real.”
This project has gone through two stages. “Starting with planning, data acquisition, and processing, and moving on to structure design, large-scale 3D printing, construction, and assembly of the replicas, sandblasting, and light source design, and installation.”
The researchers “first built 3D models of the three statues, before reproducing them with 3D printing technology.” As Zhejiang University’s Assistant to the Dean of Cultural Heritage, Diao Changyu, elaborates, “the color was first painted automatically by machines. Then artists from Yungang added color in detail.”
Following the success of these three 3D printed Buddhist statue replicas, plans have now been made to reproduce two other caves from the Yungang Grottoes using 3D printing technology.
Image and Quotes Courtesy of 3DPrint