Lecture 011.005

RAPID PROTOTYPING IN MUSEUM COLLECTIONS. 
TECHNOLOGY – APPLICATIONS – DURABILITY
BY TIM BECHTHOLD

The following paper presents a rather new technology called Rapid Prototyping (RP), that became available in the late 1980s, and investigates its possible effects on the conservation world. It is an additive manufacturing technology which was originally used to produce models and prototypes.
Today the applications are spread to manufacture production parts of high quality in relatively small numbers.
Rapid Prototyping plays an important role in the design process to realise complex shapes. Designers of industrial art apply this technology to materialise their ideas. Since the beginning of the new millenium some of these products have attained cult status. Produced as limited editions they were sold like art objects. No wonder that in the meantime the first RP objects have already entered museum collections.
This paper highlights the RP technology, its appliance in the museum world and features some examples of the above mentioned RP icons. Related to the long-term preservation of these products the question: “Are we facing a new plastics conservation challenge?” will be discussed.

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