Printing | 31 03 2015

3D Printing Project with the Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God

Today I would like to tell you the story about our visit to the Eastern Orthodox Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, located near the town of Troyan (known also as Troyan Monastery), where we 3D scanned unique religious objects, and exhibits from the monastery museum, which we will soon offer as 3D printable models at . We were very excited since this was our first project with a religious organization in the field of 3D printing and 3D scanning. Troyan Monastery is the third largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria founded in the late 16th century and we were delighted to be invited. Visit!

Stan and I visited the monastery on a very snowy day in mid-March. We wondered whether to travel in such severe weather conditions, but since we were invited personally by the chief of the monastery, Abbot Sioniy (Zion in English), we did not want to miss this unique opportunity. So we hit the road. The highway was covered with snow all the way to Troyan and it took us nearly three hours to cover the distance of 100 miles (150 km). Once we arrived we realized that it worth the risk. The monastery was covered by snow.

It was beautiful, like in Disney’s Frozen. We wanted to start scanning as soon as we arrived but Abbot Sioniy insisted that we join him for lunch. Since we were at the monastery during the Easter Lent, the food was entirely vegetarian, which did not make it any less tasty.

After we finished our lunch, Stan and I started working. As always, we carried our Artec Eva 3D scanner (designed for the scanning of larger objects) as well as  our Artec Spider (designed for smaller things). The 19 year old novice monk Simeon was assigned to help us. Simeon was a great guy, very smart and educated, and we very much enjoyed his presence.

We decided first to start 3D scanning religious articles. The first group of objects were sanctuary lamps. For those who do not know, the sanctuary lamp is a ritual tool in the form of a glass or cup full of liquid fat - oil or olive oil and a floating wick, which helps burn fat. The body of incense burner is metal or a mixture of metal and porcelain. The metal part is the important one and that was our focus. The sanctuary lamps were silver, made in the 17th and the 18th century. The Abbot said that they are extremely valuable to the monastery and we promised to 3D print some of them.

3D scanning of such detailed objects was quite complicated. The models had very complex geometry and it took more than two hours to 3D scan five of them. We also realized that we will have to spend many more hours in post-scanning in order to make them suitable for 3D printing.

After 3D scanned sanctuary lamps, we started with crosses. Most of them were made of silver dating back to the 18th century. Again, we experienced problems in scanning miniature details but we managed it. Actually, we managed it only partially:  in the middle of the 3D scanning of crosses, there was a blackout. Because of the snow storm, the grid crashed and the electricity stopped in entire region. Of course, we had a battery for the scanners, but we were able to 3D scan only two additional objects.

We decided to wait, but it turned out that the electricity was not  restored very quickly. So, we decided to pack our equipment and leave with a promise to come back in a week.

The outcome from the trip: 15 new 3D printable models, a commitment for a second round of scanning and fantastic day with so unusual but amazing people.