23 June 2017

Concept Laser investigates additive manufacturing in archeology

3D printing is opening up new possibilities for documenting and copying artifacts in the field of archeology. The latest example is a replica of the figure of a bronze horse rider from an early Celtic chieftain's grave near Unlingen, Germany in the Biberach region of Baden-Wurttemberg. Using one of its M2 cusings, Concept Laser has produced a faithful copy of this prehistoric rider, an object nearly 2,800 years old. By creating a faithful replica, original objects can be evaluated scientifically and replicas made available for exhibitions at the same time.

The Rider of Unlingen is a burial object found in a Celtic chieftain's grave from the Hallstatt culture. The Rider of Unlingen represents one of the oldest depictions of a horse rider north of the Alps. This figurine is a unique early Celtic piece in Central Europe.

Until a few years ago, discoveries could only be reproduced through direct molding, a process which always risks damaging the original. Through the use of additive 3D technology, it is now possible to produce copies without making direct contact with the original. To digitise the Rider of Unlingen, a specialised process, x-ray computer tomography (CT), was used. For the 3D printing, Concept Laser's material engineers found a bronze alloy similar to the original: a modern copper-tin alloy with a density and specific weight approximating those of the artifact. The precise percentages of copper and tin could still be determined using x-ray fluorescence analysis. 

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