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Using 3D laser scanning to create 3D models of churches aid in preservation efforts

June 17, 2014

Architects and researchers continue to turn to 3D laser scanning and modeling technology to gather data from churches around the world for educational and preservation purposes.

According to Catholic News Agency, Danilo Prosperi, an architect in Rome, recently employed a 3D laser scanner to gain point-cloud data of the Santa Maria Maddelena Church in Rome, which is a Roman Catholic church in the Rococo style that is located next to the famous Pantheon. CNA reported the church was the subject of 3D scanning and modeling because the technology helps to determine weaknesses in the structure of buildings.

Prosperi noted that using 3D laser scanning was a no-brainer for him, as the researcher considers this technology to be more accurate than other types of measurement tools. In fact, taking scans of the church over the years can ensure invisible cracks in the walls are observed in time for preservation efforts.

"It was necessary to make a new set of 3D models in order to analyze the fracturing of a wall that was restored already a couple of years back," Prosperi said about using 3D laser scanning technology. "From the analysis of the deformation of the frescoed wall it was possible to see that there was a four centimeter change and deformation. A new restoration was therefore initiated to fix the problem."

Increasing use of 3D laser scanning for ecclesiastical purposes
The Santa Maria Maddelena church isn't the first one to benefit from the use of laser scanning and modeling technology. Test and measurement resource Quality Digest Magazine reported architects and researchers scanned a Russian Orthodox church in the Czech Republic in 2012 to help restore the church's strong decorations and murals. The magazine noted that the church's internal and external elements underwent extensive 3D laser scans for preservation purposes, even though it had been reconstructed as early as the 1980s.

Many architects, engineers and researchers are even being trained in the benefits and uses of 3D laser scanning technology when they are still in school. CNA reported the European University of Rome has a master's program that educates students on laser scanning ecclesiastical environments. 

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