Preservation of Ancient Indian Manuscripts Using 3D Printing Technology


Tara Prakashana, an NGO situated in Bengaluru and Udupi, has launched a conservation project that leverages 3D printing to protect ancient palm leaf manuscripts. By using additive manufacturing, these manuscripts can be recreated in durable plastic form. Such 3D printed models can withstand high temperatures, humidity, and lessening in quality, promising to preserve these manuscripts for generations to come.

The brain behind the project, Professor PR Mukund, who is an Emeritus Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the founder of Tara Prakashana, holds a pending patent for this application. While still in the testing stage, the project is considerably focusing on works of significant Vedic literature. Dr. Anand Gopalan, the CEO of Vayu Robotics, has contributed an entire manuscript for this perseverance method. While initially the project was using laser technology, it has now moved to more affordable 3D printing.

Mukund’s interest in manuscript conservation was inspired in 2005 by a request from his mentor, Dr. Bannanje Govindacharya. Since then, Tara Prakashana has successfully processed over 3,000 manuscripts with the aim to preserve and proliferate Vedic knowledge. In collaboration with various organisations, the NGO puts immense focus on manuscripts covering Vedas, Puranas, Itihasa, and commentaries dating back centuries.

The preservation process involves multi-spectral imaging to extract images from the manuscripts, which are often challenging to read. After enhancing these images (without altering their content), they are transferred to a long-lasting medium.

The application of 3D printing in preserving ancient manuscripts marks a significant stride in cultural heritage conservation. Tara Prakashana’s project demonstrates the potential of merging traditional knowledge with modern technology. Such integrations could redefine preservation methods in various fields, extending the life and accessibility of invaluable historical artifacts.


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