Project DIG has curated a 3D print of a rare and endangered Aboriginal tree carving using binder jet 3D print technology, preserving it for generations to come.

Queensland Museum researchers, powered by Project DIG, used photogrammetry to create a 3D model and computer simulation of the rare and endangered dendroglyph, revealing new and intricate details not seen before by the human eye.

The carving depicts the Indigenous legend of the Yalanji Lizard Man from the Daintree in far North Queensland. While the carving of the man was easily identified, the 3D modelling uncovered a hunting spear through the man’s chest.

With the use of high quality, full colour granular print technology, the incredible detail in the computer simulation has been translated to a small scale 3D print. Unlike other 3D print technology, binder jetting has CYMK capability producing full colour 3D models straight from the printer. The process involves building the model up with layers of powder just 0.1mm in thickness, colouring each layer as it is built. The entire process from printing and preparing to sealing and drying the print took just under two days to complete.

Computer simulation and 3D print technology provide an efficient and non-invasive method of preservation for culturally significant discoveries like the dendroglyph. The 3D print has been presented to the Traditional Owners from Western Yalanji as an example of how they can preserve their cultural assets for generations to come.