Supported by 3D printing technology, the replica of a cave in the Yungang Grottoes, a 1,500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site, has been successfully made in Beijing.
The replica, based on the original cave No. 18, of which the main Buddha statue is 15.5 meters in height, is 17 meters in height and 22 meters in width, according to Yungang Grottoes Research Institute in northern China's Shanxi Province.
The project was launched by the institute and Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture.
After more than six months of data collection and processing, 800 modules of the replica were printed by over 20 3D printers within a year. It took another three months to assemble each part and color them with pigments on site, said Ning Bo, head of the institute's digitalization department.
"The well-improved resin material, featuring moisture resistance, flame retardancy, anti-corrosion and waterproofing, was adopted in printing the cave. By using this kind of material, the replica is able to be disassembled for easy transportation," Ning said.
The replica was built to scale with a focus on precision, Ning said, adding that it is expected to be showcased in Beijing in the future, exerting great significance for the promotion of Yungang Grottoes culture.
Zhang Zhuo, head of the institute, said that long-term research and exploration have been carried out among a number of universities and research institutes in recent years for the creation of digital archives for the grottoes.
Earlier, replicas of grottos No. 3 and No. 12 were made.
Zhang said that with digital archives, people will have information on the current situation of the grottos and promptly grasp the morphological changes of the cultural relics in years to come.
Once the grottos are damaged due to natural disasters or human factors, it will be possible to carry out repair, Zhang said.
The Yungang Grottoes, located in the south of Wuzhou Mountain, is about 16 kilometers west of Datong City, northern China's Shanxi Province. More than 59,000 statues were carved in 45 caves in the Yungang Grottoes, which was listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2001.