End-to-end 3D scanning, presentation and printing workflow investigation

Academic lead: Dr. Yann Tristant, Department of Ancient History

Learning and Teaching team: Tom Kerr, Michael Rampe, Stephen Kennedy-Clarke, Tony Dwyer, Maria D'Addiego-Kettle.

Background to the Project

The main purpose of this project is to offer a fully-online course (AHIS170) that includes rich graphic activities for students of Egyptology through the use of 3D scanned artefacts that can provide a highly authentic learning experience.  A training component will provide selected staff from Arts and the Learning and Teaching Centre (LTC) with the skills to capture high definition scans of ancient artefacts and other objects, and prepare them for inclusion in iLearn units currently offered at Macquarie.

There is huge potential to use the approaches and tools developed in this project in other disciplines within the Arts faculty and in other faculties at Macquarie University.  Any unit of study that includes the necessity to closely examine artefacts or samples such as geological or biological specimens from multiple view points could benefit from the project's projected outputs. This project also integrates with other technology initiatives within Arts, such as the use of 3D Printing technology to produce facsimiles of ancient historical artefacts or anthropological specimens.

Problem

Firstly, a mechanism for delivery of virtual 3D artefacts to local and distance students was required within a sound pedagogical framework. Secondly, end-to-end workflows for the use of 3D scanning, printing and delivery needed investigation and documentation for use by the wider community.

Solution

Suitable open source technology for delivery of the content in browser was sourced and implemented including development of a well designed learning and teaching activity. Staff and student training in scanning technology was arranged and followed up with development of an end-to-end workflow.

Outcome

A web based interface that works across all modern browsers and mobile devices has been implemented and widely tested. This allows students to intuitively view the content without the need for worrying about plugins or learning complex standalone software. Click here for a sampler page of our development of the web based interface.

Screen shot of Object description activity
Fig. 1. Object description activity

This was further integrated into an archaeological object description activity with iLearn. In consultation with the academic lead, the language and methodologies of archaeological object description were implemented in a scaffolded formative exercise. This will be trialled further with a student cohort in the first half of 2014.

Workflow diagram for 3D scanning procedures
Fig. 2. Workflow diagram

To address the potential of the wider community to use this sometimes complicated and specialised equipment, a workflow was developed which involved 3D scanning techniques, 3D postproduction methods, surface texturing processes and the creation of deliverable files for the web interface and 3D printing. This was documented by the team, presented at various forums and seminars and will be a published resource for other members of the community wishing to undertake endeavours in this area.