3D-printed, elephant-friendly ivory substitute Digory looks like the real thing

3D-printed, elephant-friendly ivory substitute Digory looks like the real thing

The object on the left is an original ivory from a 17th-century casket. The version on the right is a 3D-printed synthetic ivory called Digory.

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The ivory trade has been widely banned around the world for the protection of the dwindling population of princely animals. A team of researchers have come up with a new synthetic ivory that can be used to repair or restore historic objects, which can cause pieces of chess to disappear from a 17th-century casket.

“Diggery” is made of synthetic resin and calcium phosphate particles. “It is processed in a hot, liquid state and hardened in 3D printers with UV rays,” the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vein) said in a statement on Tuesday. “It can then be polished and color-matched to create a deceptively authentic-looking ivory alternative.”

Restoration experts have turned to plastic, bone, and other options to replace ivory, but finding materials that look, feel, and behave like real things has been challenging. “The material should not just look like ivory, the strength and hardness must also be correct, and the material must be machined,” said Thada Rath of TU Veen, a lead author on Diggery published in the material applicable to the journal.

Digory ivory substitutes can be stained and decorated with dark lines to look like real ivory.

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The research team developed digery to help restore the 17th-century casket that was missing ornate ornamental ivory pieces. The 3D printing method allowed them to replicate the complex design of the original.

A series of experiments took place to hit the correct formula for synthetic ivory, which has a translucent character that mimics natural materials. Its density and color are also similar. Researchers have had the privilege of using black tea to stain the Dijori to match old Ivory.

The world’s elephant population is devastated by illegal poaching for its tusks. Numerous restrictions have been placed on the ivory trade, with the US enforcing an almost total ban on commercial trade on African elephant ivory, particularly in 2016.

Researchers hope that Diggery will help restore historical art and religious objects in a quick, convenient and ethical way.

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