Scientists from Austria have presented a printed material that can replace ivory. It can be used to restore many museum artifacts.
Researchers explained that ivory has been used to make art for centuries. However, in 1989, the ivory trade was banned internationally. Therefore, to restore art objects, where ivory was previously used, now you need to use bones, shells, or plastic. However, they are not a complete replacement.
TU Wien (Vienna) and the printing company Cubicure GmbH have developed a high-tech substitute in collaboration with the Vienna Department of Art and Monument Care. Digoria material consists of synthetic resin and calcium phosphate particles. It is processed in a hot, liquid state and hardened in a 3D printer by ultraviolet rays already in the desired shape. It can then be polished and color-matched.
“Our project began with the restoration of a 17th-century coffin in the Mauerbach Church,” said Jürgen Stampfl of the Vienna Institute for Materials Science and Technology. – It is decorated with small ivory ornaments, but some of them have been lost over time. Fortunately, they can now be replaced with 3D printing technology. ”
Through numerous experiments, the team was able to quickly find the right mixture. These are tiny particles of calcium phosphate with an average diameter of about 7 microns embedded in a special resin along with a fine powder of silicon oxide. The mixture was then processed at high temperature in Cubicure 3D printers.
The team already had experience with similar materials: the research group is working, for example, with ceramic materials for the dental technology. However, developing a suitable ivory replacement was not an easy task. Scientists noted that it should look the same as the original material, but also repeat its properties.