Stone restoration work: possibilities and limits of laser scanner surveys

People often think that, at this stage, technology solves any technical problem by itself. Nothing could be more wrong, and our experience confirms that what sets us apart not just as manufacturers but also as design consultants is that we know how to combine cutting-edge technology with the know-how and manual expertise of our fathers. A concrete example? The interior renovation work in a late 19th Century building, where we were asked to restore part of an ancient marble handrail, performing the survey of the original manufactured product with a laser scanner.

We therefore had to produce a single piece with a complex curved shape, respecting the specific architectural limitations for the sections and proportions and the design specifications for the weights. A small architectural feature, which we were called upon to create in our capacity as "experts in creating the trickiest objects". Yet we were convinced that with our 3D laser scanning tool, the job would be relatively simple.

The reality of the work site and the requirements of the designers put a damper on our optimism and pointed out the limits, at this stage, of the technology we had at our disposal. It wasn't possible to perform the survey of the handrail to be built with the necessary millimetre-precision using the laser scanner. We had to find an alternative solution, and support the current techniques with traditional surveying methods. We therefore suggested taking a plaster cast "old school", like the founders of Bevilacqua Marmi taught us to do, which would reflect the required dimensions and shapes scrupulously. Subsequently, once the model was pre-installed on-site and the architects had made their last comments, technology came back into play, making the difference once more compared to a solely artisanal approach.

Indeed, by surveying the plaster cast using the laser scanner, our design department built the 3D drawing of the piece to produce, and then sent the related documents to our production centre. The challenges didn't stop there. As a matter of fact, we had to devise a dedicated system to house the raw marble piece, to enable the processing of the undercut details on the workbench of the CNC machine, in order to guarantee the stability of the item during all the shaping phases.

In the end, we managed to ply the material into the desired shape, concealed inside an apparently cold marble parallelepiped, waiting to emerge. This shape was then destined to undergo for the last time the painstaking care of a hand-finish, to achieve absolute styling perfection.

So we definitely believe in technology, but not alone. We still also need passion, studying, experience and the desire always to go beyond the limit of what we know.



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