A museum in Germany uses a high speed 3-D scanning system to help art historians and researchers preserve cultural artifacts quickly and reduce the risk of damage in the process. Sharon Reich reports.
STORY: Art historians at Frankfurt's "Liebieghaus" sculpture collection are using a new high speed three dimensional scanner on this 500-year-old sculpture to create a digital archive record in a matter of minutes. While there have been other 3-D scanners on the market, what stands out with the CultLab3D is its time and cost efficiency, explains Pedro Santos of the Fraunhofer Institute which developed the device. (SOUNDBITE) (German) FRAUNHOFER INSTITUTE FOR GRAPHIC DATA PROCESSING, PEDRO SANTOS, SAYING: "Compared to traditional 3D digitization, we have automated the process. This means that while before, about half a day was needed to digitize a bust because it was necessary to circle around the object in order to cover the whole surface, now all you have to do is put the object onto our scanner. It passes through and that takes one minute." Once an object is scanned, the shape, surface texture, as well as its absorption characteristics are reproduced digitally. The data is then available to researchers around the world, so that works of art don't need to be shipped globally to be examined by experts. (SOUNDBITE) (German) FRAUNHOFER INSTITUTE FOR GRAPHIC DATA PROCESSING, PEDRO SANTOS, SAYING: "You no longer have to send the original across the globe for different scientists to work on it one after the other. Just with the model, you can get a lot of information. Over the next one or two years, we are planning to go multi-spectral with the scanner. This means that when you use ultraviolet light, you can make traces of a chisel visible on a wooden statue. This allows for a lot more information in addition to the geometry, the shape and the look of the object." Vinzenz Brinkmann, the head of the Liebieghaus collection, says the CultLab3D could be a game changer for art historians. (SOUNDBITE) (German) HEAD OF "LIEBIEGHAUS SCULPTURES COLLECTION," VINZENZ BRINKMANN, SAYING: "This technology is a revolution, as far as the documentation of cultural goods goes and also regarding research and the way we handle our objects for the public. In research, we can now make additions and reconstructions. We can reassemble objects which were torn apart. This is a huge new opportunity." The development team say the "CultLab3D" will be ready for market at the beginning of 2015.