Cetim, a technological institute with the Carnot label, has just modeled the statue of the Virgin Our Lady of Lourdes in 3D. The model obtained will allow the sanctuary to optimize the conservation and reproduction of the Carrara marble work of art produced more than a century and a half ago. The statue could be scanned in 3 dimensions in just one hour with Creaform's HandyScan scanner. The operation took place at night so as not to disturb the many daily visitors. Cetim experts then developed and presented a 3D digital model with a degree of precision of the order of a tenth of a millimeter.
With 3 million visitors each year, Lourdes is one of the most visited places of Catholicism in Europe after the Vatican. The first small plaster statue of the Virgin, placed in a niche in the cave around 1858, was replaced in 1864 by another, made of Carrara marble, the work of sculptor Joseph-Hugues Fabisch, which was restored in 1996. The statue quickly became the symbol of the place.
A digitization operation to the nearest tenth of a millimeter ...
The digitization was carried out by experts from Cetim Sud-Ouest based in Pau, specializing in advanced measurement and control technologies. This work on a work is part of a tradition for Cetim which has notably produced digital models (finite elements) of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty.
Since the work of art cannot be moved and the pilgrims cannot be disturbed during the day, the measurements were taken when the sanctuary was closed at night. Creaform's HandyScan Laser equipment made it possible to scan, in just one hour, 85% of the statue (a part remaining too close to the rock wall) and to provide measurements to within +/- 0.10 mm. For this purpose, adhesive pads were simply stuck randomly on the statue for 3D referencing without requiring any other intervention on the surface of the statue.
After processing all the 3D data, a complete digital model was delivered just a few days after the intervention, offering a triangulated mesh of the statue in 3D STL format. This 3D model is today a reference, thus freezing the work of art at the date of the measurements. A certified copy respecting "scrupulously" the shapes and geometries of the statue was also made.