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Agfa Printer Enables Temple Door Restoration

Recreating the original look of the ancient doors took more than a decade

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Elmwood Park, New Jersey-based wide-format printer manufacturer Agfa Graphics recently played a key role in helping restore the look of an ancient Japanese Buddhist temple.

The Buddhist By?d?-in Temple is near Kyoto, Japan, and is registered as a Japanese National Treasure and World Heritage Site. Its image appears on the back side of the Japanese 10 yen coin. The most famous building on the temple grounds-the only remaining original structure-is the Phoenix Hall, constructed in 1053. The doors of Phoenix Hall were in need of a new look.

When the printing experts at Agfa Graphics Japan got the request to recreate the doors of the temple, they embarked on a fascinating journey which required extensive printing, substrate and color management expertise.

As the paint on the original west doors to the H??-d? was fading, Monsho Kamii, chief priest of the temple, had a special team investigate them and collect remaining small amounts of paint in order to simulate the colors and the image, using the latest digital techniques. This painstaking effort took about 10 years. The chief priest then contacted Agfa Graphics Japan with the simulated image file and the request to reconstruct the doors.

Agfa Graphics was chosen partly because it has been producing graphics for 150 years, and ecology, health and safety were also added considerations, according to the company. The  chief priest also appreciated that Agfa develops and manufactures its UV-inkjet inks in-house.

Agfa Graphics experts tried to match the expected colors as accurately as possible using in-house color management technology and printing techniques. An Anapurna 2050i wide-format inkjet printer was used to print on the 400-year cold Japanese cypress wood that the two new doors are made of. To make the job more challenging, the 1.2m by 2.5m doors weren’t flat, so a special technique was developed to print on the curved surface of the frames with the help of a special tool that was created with a 3D printer. In addition, a particular kind of white ink was used to imitate the original white parts of the door.

After the doors were finished, they were put on display at the museum at the temple with explanations of the efforts and processes of the restoration, including the investigation of the material, structure and the reproduction techniques. The doors have since been placed in their new hinges in the temple, where they will stay for an indeterminate amount of time.

“The moment I saw the completed door, I couldn’t withhold my tears,” says Monsho Kamii, chief priest of the By?d?-in temple. “To see them reconstructed had been my dearest wish for 20 years.”

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Tony Kindelspire

Tony Kindelspire is digital content editor of Sign & Digital Graphics & WRAPS magazines.

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