Fake or Real? 3D Scanning of Cultural Relics

ceramic relic

With the continuous development of science and technology, the identification and inspection of cultural relics represent a significant breakthrough. Before that, what kind of problems did inspectors face

Difficulties of cultural relics appraisal

  • The traditional method takes considerably more time and labor.
  • Cultural relics may be replaced and damaged during exhibits.
  • The identification workflows are intricate and complicated.

However, nowadays, 3D scanning technology brings us an innovative way to handle these problems. 3D scanning of cultural relics has obvious advantages in precise data acquisition and effective work efficiency.

What do customers need?

A ceramic relic is relatively fragile. It has various patterns and complex structures. The China Society of Inspection and Quarantine ( CSIQ) demands as follows:

  • Get the 3D data of it and archive the data by 3D scanning.
  • Perform a second scanning of the returned ceramic relic.
  • Compare the new 3D data with its original data so as to judge the authenticity.

Structured 3D scanner VS Handheld 3D scanner

CSIQ used to measure the ceramic relics by the structured 3D scanner, but this method indeed reflects some shortcomings:

  • The shiny surface needs to be powder sprayed, which is easy to damage the cultural relics and hard to clean up for post-process.
  • The structured 3D scanner requires high in environment and light.
  • The preliminary work is time-consuming and low efficient.

As the technology improved, handheld 3D scanners came out and eliminated the concerns described above and included new features such as:

  • No powder spray
  • Insensitive to environment and light
  • Fast measurement speed
  • High-precision data acquisition
  • User-friendly

Case analysis

A ceramic relic undergoes molding and calcination during production, and deformation is inevitable. Therefore, there will be some differences between fake and genuine artifacts in shapes. Such differences are indistinguishable for the naked eye. Nevertheless, 3D laser scanner contributes to performing accurate data for 3D inspection.

To safely scan the ceramic relic without any damage, ScanTech used the PRINCE 3D laser scanner for the entire 3D measurement.

The PRINCE 3D scanner adopts red and blue laser scan modes: the red laser mode can get the point data of the ceramic relic with fast speed of 480,000 measurements/s, and the blue laser mode obtains the ultra details with the resolution of 0.02 mm. Besides, PRINCE 3D scanner can be operated in any environment, this greatly optimizes workflow. Most importantly, to protect the integrity of the relics, PRINCE 3D scanner can conduct scanning without powder spray.

Attach markers on ceramic relic

3D point cloud data

Stl data

Color map

The accurate 3D data of the ceramic relic can be archived and used for inspection. Moreover, the scanned 3D data can accurately identify genuine relics and imitation products. Therefore, 3D scanner provides reliable identification basis for inspection professionals.

PRINCE handheld 3D scanner is not only applied to identify ceramic artifacts, but also recognize ancient inscription and inspect ancient jade and bronzes. Moreover, PRINCE 3D scanner helps scan masterpieces and build a database. Hence, 3D scanning technology enhances the value of works and supplements data materials, which gives support for later research.


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