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Synthetic ivory can be 3D printed

Synthetic ivory can be 3D printed

Written by David

April 28, 2021


Check mates: two chess pieces that were 3D printed with the new artificial ivory. The dark lines were added to more precisely mimic ivory. (Courtesy: Technical University of Vienna) Claimed to be highly realistic and elephant-friendly, a new alternative to ivory has been developed by researchers in Austria. L


ed by Jürgen Stampfl at the Vienna University of Technology, the team used stereolithography to 3D print a replica material called “Digory”, which they claim closely mimics both the mechanical and optical properties of real ivory. Their approach could make it far easier for conservators to restore historical ivory artefacts.


Renowned for its aesthetic appearance, durability, and ease of sculpting, ivory has been used for centuries to create practical and artistic objects. However, its use has extracted a terrible toll on elephant populations and its global trade was banned completely in 1989. Today, conservators use synthetic replica materials to restore damaged ivory artefacts – yet none of these are fully able to recreate characteristics like the colour, translucency, and surface gloss of the real thing. Stamfl’s team aimed to recreate these properties using stereolithography: a 3D printing technique that uses heated, light-sensitive resins to construct polymer materials layer by layer. Previously, […]

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