Adhesive Bonded 3D Printed Digital Ivory Used to Repair Historic Artifacts

Posted on 6/29/2021 9:36:36 AM By ASC

Austria’s TU Wien University has developed a new adhesive bound 3D printed ivory-inspired material with similar mechanical and optical qualities as those of the prized cream-colored natural material found in elephant tusks. According to the university’s materials scientist, the aim is to use the 3D printed material for repairing ancient artifacts, creating new ones, and possibly protecting the dwindling elephant herds from extinction caused by illegal ivory trade.

Comprised of calcium phosphate particles and synthetic resin and processed in an extremely hot liquid state, Digory (or digital ivory) is then hardened under UV light in a 3D printer. Suitably shaped prints are made and multiple layers of them bonded on top of each other using adhesives as a binder.

The university reports that while the new material’s different composition does not allow for it to be considered as synthetic ivory, the digital ivory, or Digory, is extremely similar to natural tusk ivory in many ways. It has the same density and hardness, and can be drilled, bonded, carved, or turned in similar ways, but processing is far faster as it is done digitally using 3D printing, or additive manufacturing.

According to the university, the Digory can be polished and color-matched to an extent that makes it almost indistinguishable when compared to the natural ivory material it’s mimicking. Even the dark lines commonly seen in ivory are included, with the addition of black tea.