Category Archives: About Orkney

3D printing

One project that I have been involved in recently is the creation of a 3D print of the structures of the Ness of Brodgar. This I have been doing with one of the archaeologists – Jim Bright.

We both thought it could be a good idea and possibly a retail line, what we didn’t expect was the problems converting the raw data into something that would print. The experiments took us about three weeks before we had some sample that we could show. The reaction was great, granted this was between like-minded archaeologists!

We showed the samples to the Site Director of The Ness of Brodgar, Nick Card and he asked if we could print the complete Ness dig at about one metre square. Now my printer at the time only has a build area of 20 x 20 cms so this would involve several ‘slices’ so we tried some tests and all seemed fine until I worked out the material cost of some £600! As this was an experiment I decided that if the print was reduced to 500 cms x 500 cms then the material cost reduced to about £60, much better. The print time would be around fourteen days so this would still be a big project.

We managed to get all the pieces printed and glued together in time for the last public open day of the Ness of Brodgar dig and it featured in the last Daily Diary Blog. During all this I have bought an much upgraded printer which is faster, larger ( much ) and much much quieter.

We intend to do a lot more of the prints of the individual structures and sell these via the web to help support the Dig. We also printed a smaller model of one of the walls that has been removed during the dig and sold this in the Orkney Archaeology Society Shop at the Ness. It is great to be involved with the Ness in a small way