Eddie Horn : 3D Scanning & Photogrammetry for Digital Heritage
Eddie Horn, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), gave Probus two talks for the price of one. Not only did he tell the Club about the Gorbals Clock Tower heritage project but he also spent useful time introducing the technicalities of 3D imaging and photogrammetry technology. This new technology is proving to have growing applications across industry, medicine, entertainment, engineering and architecture.
The 3D industry is in fact many ‘industries’. It ranges from 3D films and 3D imaging in MRI scans to 3D printing. In most applications its great strength is in visualisation. The technology is being taught at GCU and valuable where visualisations can help designing, planning and illustrating objects, buildings and equipment in fields such as architecture, engineering and medicine.
The Oil industry has quickly exploited the potential of 3D virtual reality to plan pipe runs and installations in hazardous undersea situations. This greatly reduces costly undersea working time in offshore rigs and pipelines and, crucially, reduces risk to life and limb. Surgical teams are also no stranger to this new technology and now increasingly plan operations using 3D images and virtual reality. Of course, most public experience of it is through movies in films such as Jurassic Park, Star Wars and Toy Story.
Eddie explained that 3D imaging is especially valued in engineering as it can provide pin point accuracy and meet the tolerances required for high precision engineering. This is evident with the arrival of 3D printing. It is now possible to manufacture precise components or objects relatively cheaply. This is a great advantage when producing small numbers, especially prototypes. Although, as Eddie remarked, mass production is still cheaper for large runs.
Returning to the cast iron Gorbals Clock Tower project, its origins started with the Gorbals Community Group seeking to reclaim lost history. The Tower had been unceremoniously removed in 1933 when the Corporation decided to run a tram route through Gorbals Cross. The replacement of the Tower, which older residents could distantly remember, seemed to offer an iconic project which everyone could buy into.
Initially the group was challenged by the lack of detailed photographs and records to produce a replica. However, painstaking research revealed that there was an exact copy in St Kitts in the Caribbean! It is known as the Berkeley Memorial and located in Bassaterre, St Kitts and Nevis. Eddie believes that the 19th Century Gorbals Clock Tower moulds from the Sun Foundry were used to make this memorial. The only difference was the St Kitts Coat of Arms. Something which is easy to remedy in Glasgow.
Eddie’s team made a trip out to St Kitts to measure up the memorial. It was scanned 15 times and 1500 photographs were taken. Back in GCU 2D drawings were made and then be priced by George Taylor’s foundry in Hamilton. The estimated cost for the replica Tower using centuries old technology is £130,000. Of this, the Community has already collected £60,000. Moreover, there is a prospect of some assistance from the City Council. Two potential sites have been identified, one of which is near the Riverside College. So the project’s chances are looking good.
Discussion at the end revealed the great heritage potential of 3D imaging. Members also learned that the GCU have a unit known as the University for the Common Good. It’s GCU’s platform for working with business and communities in teaching and research. In this instance exploiting the heritage potential of the new 3D technology. It also became clear that GCU students trained in 3D imaging are much sought after as their skills are transferable across many sectors. Just as importantly, Eddie observed that 3D imaging and 3D printing has been growing at 8% year on year for some time. So here is a new economic potential which one hopes that the Scottish business sector will seize with both hands.
Lastly, this talk was the final one of the 2017-18 session. Our President, Angus, is to be complimented in getting his term off to a great start with two cracking talks. See you on September 11th when the Autumn Session starts.
(The World’s End Murders – Arthur Donaldson)