Additive Manufacturing Technologies (AMT)
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Substituting ivory with a 3D-printable material

Ivory used to be a popular material for numerous religious, art and every-day objects because of its aesthetic looks and convenient workability. In 1989 a trading ban was introduced for ethical reasons. In order to still restore artefacts made of ivory many natural and synthetic substitute materials were used. These materials are usually only available in bulk and, therefore, need to be carved into shape. To recreate sometimes very complex and delicate artefacts, it is, therefore, reasonable to develop a resource-friendly substitute that can be processed by additive manufacturing.

An adequate substitute material should represent the aesthetic characteristics of ivory by means of color, translucency and haptics. This also includes the appearance of the so-called Schreger lines, which is a characteristic pattern visible at the cross-section of an elephant or mammoth tusk and particularly difficult to reproduce. In collaboration with Cubicure GmbH, The Department of Art and Preservation of Historical Monuments of the Archdiocese of Vienna and the professional restorer Addison KG a photosensitive material was developed that shows similar translucency and density as ivory. The color is adjustable to the original shade of ivory, which is to be replaced. There is also a promising solution for recreating the Schreger lines in progress. This new 3D-printable ivory-like material shows, therefore, great potential to replace ivory for restoring and decorative purposes.


Contact: Prof. J. Stampfl

Funding: FFG