Combining X-ray micro-CT technology and 3D printing for the digital preservation and study of a 19th century cantonese chess piece with intricate internal structure

Stephen D. Laycock, Graham D. Bell, David B. Mortimore, Mark K. Greco, Nick Corps, Irving Finkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Laser scanning has been widely adopted for the digital preservation and study of cultural heritage artifacts. However, surface scans alone are not sufficient for a variety of intricate objects such as the Cantonese chess pieces that were delicately carved from ivory throughout the 19th Century. These pieces incorporate a puzzle ball base, which is comprised of several balls, one inside the other. In this project we explore the use of x-ray micro-CT technology to scan the piece with a voxel separation of less than 9 µm, By using masking and editing software we generate 3D surface models of the separate parts to enable close inspection of both exterior and interior sections. Visualizing the dataset at a much larger scale enables the viewer to appreciate the fine surface details imperceivable in the original piece. Finally, 3D scaled versions are printed where the small details are also easily observed and the inner balls within the puzzle ball base move freely. The work flow demonstrated in this article has important possibilities in digital preservation, documentation, and presentation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13:1-13:7
JournalJournal on Computing and Cultural Heritage
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • documentation
  • micro-CT
  • 3d digitization
  • rapid prototyping
  • measurement

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