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VCU Archaeology

Santa Came Early! Happy Holidays from the Virtual Curation Laboratory

by Lauren Volkers, Research Associate in the Virtual Curation Laboratory.

In a short week and half, we here at the Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University  received all sorts of goodies! We have gotten new 3D software, a new Makerbot Replicator 2, a suitcase (I’ll explain later), and just recently a new handheld 3D scanner called Sense by Cubify. What’s so exciting about all of this is now we have better software to scan, edit, make digital models, and print artifacts. We are also able to scan bigger objects we previously were unable to scan like a tombstone, rock art, and even people!

The first present came right after Thanksgiving, the new software and Makerbot Replicator 2. One of the new programs is called Rapidworks where we can upload edited artifacts that have already been scanned and fuse them without a problem while keeping the color of the artifact intact. The problem before was that ScanStudio would not fuse most of our scanned artifacts so we were volume merging them. Also once the artifacts were fused the color was lost and they would turn all black. Now we are able to fuse all of our artifacts and keep the original color of the artifacts and this can be used in animations.

A small meteorite that has been scanned and edited in Rapidworks.

A small meteorite that has been scanned and edited in Rapidworks.

A bust of one of our interns, Leslie, in Makerware.

A bust of one of our interns, Leslie, in Makerware.

The next present was the Makerbot Replicator 2, one of the newest 3D printers from Makerbot. This new printer makes it easier for us to print all new sorts of artifacts. Currently we are printing artifacts that have been edited and artifacts made to be ornaments for Christmas. With this new printer we do not have to constantly change the extruder, since the extruder on the old printer kept getting clogged after it was done printing. With our old Makerbot Replicator we would have trouble getting the plastic to stick to the platform, since one of the wires to our platform burned out. We would also have issues with the old printer acting up while it was printing an artifact and just extrude a whole lot of filament and make looks like a pile of spaghetti. However, with the new Makerbot Replicator 2 the filament is really hard when it cools down, this makes it hard to get the printed artifacts off of the platform. The new printer also makes a lot of support beams to support the model that is being made, which means there is more excess material that needs to be removed.

The Makerbot Replicator 2, aka Santa's Workshop.

The Makerbot Replicator 2, aka Santa’s Workshop.

Earlier this week we got a suitcase so it is easier to transport our scanner and other materials to the different sites that we visit. And our last and best present is our new 3D scanner Sense by Cubify. With this new handheld scanner we are able to print objects and artifacts that were to larger for our NextEngine scanner. It is also easy to transport since it is so small and it only requires a USB port that plugs into a tablet or computer that has the 3D scanning software on it. The software is so easy to use and the scans do not require a lot of editing. The only problem is seems to be moving around the object. In our first attempts we tried to scan busts of some of our scanning team; it seems as if you move closer or farther away from the person the scanner losses its position until you move the scanner around so it can find its position, or you have to start over. Another issue is the USB cord; we had one person hold the laptop while the other holds the scanner. It seems easier if the person that is being scanned moves in a circle, but at a slow pace. Hopefully we can print little busts of ourselves soon!

A holiday ornament made by placing a deer antler on a dog skull.

A holiday ornament made by placing a deer antler on a dog skull, e.g. “Max”



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