Tara Prakashana, an NGO based in Bengaluru and Udupi, has initiated a project utilizing 3D printing to preserve ancient palm leaf manuscripts. This technique employs additive manufacturing to replicate these manuscripts in a durable, plastic form. These 3D printed replicas can resist high temperatures, moisture, and degradation, ensuring their preservation for centuries.
Professor PR Mukund, Emeritus Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology and founder of Tara Prakashana, holds a pending patent for this application. The project, still in its pilot phase, focuses on significant Vedic literature works. Dr. Anand Gopalan, CEO of Vayu Robotics, has contributed a complete manuscript for this preservation method. Initially utilizing laser technology, Prof. Mukund has shifted to more cost-effective 3D printing.
Mukund’s engagement in manuscript preservation began in 2005, sparked by a request from his guru, Dr. Bannanje Govindacharya. Since then, over 3,000 manuscripts have been processed by Tara Prakashana, aiming to preserve and disseminate Vedic knowledge. Collaborating with various organizations, the NGO focuses on manuscripts encompassing Vedas, Puranas, itihasa, and centuries-old commentaries.
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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