Sagalassos, City of Dreams, scale model 3D printed by Materialise

We at Materialise are honored to have worked on the breath-taking Sagalassos exhibition taking place at the Gallo-Roman museum in Tongeren from 29/10/2011 to 17/06/2012. Together with the research team from the KU Leuven and those who the discovered the ruins, we were able to 3D print this massive yet intricate scale model of the Greek-Roman city exactly as it was at the height of its glory.

3D printing is the ideal technology for accurately reproducing models to this scale and complexity. For those familiar with Google Street View, you will understand that it is now possible to create 3D reproductions of the buildings around us on a computer for others to see and enjoy. 3D printing allows these reproductions to be built layer-by-layer, using lasers and in this case a liquid resin, for a high quality result.

As experts in 3D printing, we sat down with the project team to discuss how best to realize this incredible project. Which details could be built? To what dimensions could we go? In which manner would the 3D files from the archeological site be best handled? After these important decisions were made and the final 3D file were delivered to Materialise, we were able to use our Magics software in order to easily optimize the file in order to prepare it for production.

We printed the scale model on one of Materialise’s own patented Mammoth machines, the largest stereolithography machines in the world, on which parts larger than 2m can be build in one piece. A special material called Protegen was used, which is a liquid epoxy perfectly suited for this 3D printing method. For stereolithography, a thin layer of liquid is spread over a large platform and lasers are used to harden the liquid according, much like the laser printers in our houses. The only difference is that in this case, hundreds if not thousands of layers are drawn and connected, one of top of another to create a 3D object. At the end, the object rises from the machine and the unused liquid flows away.

To finish the piece, the scale model was covered in a protective white coating. Due to the impressive size of the scale model, it was printed in several pieces and still, only 15 days were required in order to bring Sagalassos back to glorious life.

For more information on the exhibition, visit:,-city-of-dreams

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