3D Lab

At the heart of the NHMW's 3D laboratory is a state-of-the-art X-ray microcomputed tomograph (MikroCT). This large-scale device is complemented by 3D scanners as well as 3D printers.

3D Scanners

The NHM Vienna has two hand-held 3D scanners, which not only enable the precise capture of object surfaces, but also provide colour information. During the scanning process, different views of the object are captured in several scans. The result is a 3D model that accurately reflects the object. Such 3D models not only enable different measurements, but also the production of detailed 3D prints. The fact that no markings are necessary for the scanning process is a great advantage, especially for museum material, as it means that the often delicate surfaces are not damaged.

The Artec Space Spider offers a high resolution and is therefore mainly used for small objects. The scanning process is followed live on a laptop or PC. The scanner works on the basis of structured light technology and can capture even complex surfaces. To simplify the scanning process and to have enough reference points, especially for small objects, a turntable with a patterned surface can be used.

The Artec Leo has automatic 3D processing, a built-in battery, touch screen and wireless connection. This allows for completely mobile scanning, even in the field. The scanning process can be observed on the built-in touch screen and the scanned models can be checked directly. There are virtually no limits to the size of the objects and even large areas can be scanned. Therefore, this scanner is particularly suitable for large exhibits that cannot or must not be moved.

The partial scans of both devices are subsequently aligned and processed in the Artec Studio Professional software.

The finished 3D models created with the 3D scanners are presented in the 3D museum of the NHMW and are mostly available for download under a CC-BY-NC licence.

3D Scanner – specifications

3D Scanner Artec Leo Artec Space Spider
3D resolution up to 0,2 mm up to 0,1 mm
3D point accuracy up to 0,1 mm up to 0,05 mm
Texture resolution 2,3 mp 1,3 mp
3D reconstruction rate for 3D video up to 44 fps up to 7,5 fps
3D reconstruction rate for 3D video streaming up to 80 fps -
Measuring field at shortest distance (HxW) 244 x 142 mm 90 x 70 mm
Measuring field at maximum distance (HxW) 838 x 488 mm 180 x 140 mm


FDM 3D printer

Part of the 3D lab at the NHM Vienna are two 3D printers (Raise3D Pro 2 Plus and Raise3D Pro 3 Plus), which can print three-dimensional objects using a FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) process. The printing volume of 305 × 305 × 605 mm enables both small and large 3D prints. A wide variety of materials can be used for the prints (PLA, ABS, PVA, wood-filled filament, ...). The plastic PLA (polyactide) is the most commonly used.

3D printers - specifications

printer: Raise3D Pro 2 Plus und Raise3D Pro 3 Plus
Printing technology: FDM
Maximum print area: 305 × 305 × 605 mm
Layer resolution: 0,01 mm – 0,25 mm
Number of extruders: 2
Printing materials: ABS, ASA, glass fibre filled, HIPS, wood filled, metal particle filled, NYLON, PETG, PLA, PP, PVA, TPU

SLA 3D printer

To enable 3D printing of small and detailed objects, a SLA printer (Phrozen Sonic Mega 8K) is also part of the 3D lab. In this process, the layers that build up the 3D print are illuminated with UV light, which hardens a liquid resin. The finished prints must then be cleaned and post-cured with UV light.
It is possible, for example, to produce 3D prints based on microCT data sets or 3D scans.
Among other things, the 3D printer can be used to enlarge small structures, print hands-on objects or even exhibits directly at the NHM Vienna. Many 3D scans from the museum are also offered free of charge as downloads for private use for 3D printing in the 3D Museum, presented on the Sketchfab platform.

This infrastructure was funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG; R&D Infrastructure Funding 2, 2018) within the project "Micromus: Unlocking the Microcosm - Micro-CT Analyses in Museum Collections".

Viola Winkler

Dr. Andreas Kroh