3D Scanning the Big Nativity Maquettes

The Scanning process involves a laser going over every contour of the maquette surface. The maquette is transformed from clay mass to an exact replica in the digital form which can be manipulated on the computer.

The clay maquettes are placed on the scanning table and rotated so that every angle of the maquette is imaged with the laser scanner.  As the scanner captures the contour surface, it is translated to digital points in the software.  These points create millions of little triangle surfaces which make up the digital surface of the virtual sculpture.  These data point are referred to as mesh data.

The mesh data has to be manipulated in the software so that all surface areas align properly, and imperfections are removed.  The individual mesh data models are then sliced into pieces which can be cut on the CNC router.  This is like building a 3D puzzle.  You slice the model up, and position the parts for assembly in a logical sequence so they can be reassembled easily after they have been cut out by the CNC router.

The images below show the processes of slicing the donkey and then generating a preview of how the CNC machine will cut the model based on how the object is sliced in the software.  Care is taken to account for all angles of the sculpture to get a perfect enlarged model.

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