While plastics like PLA and ABS will always have a major place in the 3D printing world, metal has obviously been receiving a lot of attention in recent years, as 3D printing continues to move beyond prototyping – tools made out of steel, implants 3D printed in titanium, aerospace applications in aluminum, you name it. In addition, we’re also seeing more innovations in and experimentation with other metals, such as bronze and copper, which is the most reactive metal there is.
Thanks to 3D printing, these more traditional metals are experiencing a major comeback in a unique project – updating the roofs of temples in India.
“They are precise to the last micro millimetre,” Neelesh, a mechanical engineer working on the 3D printing roof projects with Govardhan Metals on Car Street in Mangaluru, said in reference to 3D printing. “I am not saying the great artisans of the past era were any less, but in the modern times we need volumes in a limited time, which is where the technology comes in.”
Materials such as bronze, copper, gold, silver, and stone are typically used in these temples, as they represent nature in its most pure form. Close to 240 temples, such as the Siddivinayaka temple in Mumbai, in many cities across India, like Mangaluru, Margao, Panaji, Udupi, Kundapura, Honnavar, Kumta, Ankola, Addoor and Madhur, are getting a makeover as they’re being clad, or re-clad, with 3D printed copper plates.
[Image: The Hindu]
M. Shivaprasad, a coppersmith who owns Govardhan Metalworks, said, “This new technique has revolutionised temple architecture. When I examined the old copper cladding on temple roofs 300 to 400 years ago, I found they did not have engraving, or wedging qualities. They were nailed to the wooden rafters, which allowed for seepage of water over the years. Some temple managements coated them with modern, anti-ageing paints that rendered the roofs dull.”
We often see 3D technologies put to work preserving ancient history and important buildings and monuments, especially in the war-torn parts of the world. Advanced technologies are also used to celebrate, preserve and restore, and showcase temples around the world.
“New age temple architects advise authorities and communities on how to make temples aesthetic, easy to maintain and long lasting. One of the temples that underwent roof re-cladding is the Shantadurga temple in Goa,” said Vasudeva Acharya, a temple architect. “The Venkataramana temple in Mangaluru city and the Padu Thirupathi Venktarama temple in Karkala have also undergone re-cladding of the roof with modern designs in copper art.”
[Image: The New Indian Express]
3D printing was also used to modernize the Bahubali statue on Vindyagiri this year. The Mukuta Chatritriya, a series of three umbrellas, was made by Shivaprasad’s team of 28 coppersmiths out of bronze, with inlay work in copper and coated with gold.
“This is a traditional design which was in our family for several generations. They are completely handmade,” explained Shivaprasad. “Only for some finishing work, we have used modern machines. During the last Mahamastakabhisheka in 2016 we had fabricated a similar Mukuta Chatratriya, but that was not as good as the one we have fabricated this year — it is larger and heavier.”
The Mukuta Chatratriya took the team a little more than four months to create, and weighs over 1,250 kg. The series of three canopies are stacked one on top of the other, and reaches a height of nearly 60 feet.
“It is exquisite and in this modern era it is hard to believe that there are coppersmiths that deliver such beautiful work,” said The Pontiff of Shravanabelagola, Jain Mutt Swastisri Karmayogi Charukirthi Bhattaraka, about the Mukuta Chatritriya.
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[Sources: The Hindu, The New Indian Express]