Laser engraving of the ancient port of Piraeus ruins

Precise representation through laser engraving

This project was a collaboration of our workshop with the Ephorate of Antiquities of Piraeus and Islands and the construction company THEMELI for the Attiko Metro. During the project by Attiko Metro for the extension for the TRAM line extension in Piraeus and after an excavation conducted by the Ephorate of Antiquities, the exact site of the ancient port of Piraeus was found where the lines were to be placed. Since it was not possible to present the findings in its entirety, because of technical difficulties, the Ephorate of Antiquities, in collaboration with an architect, designed the relics and restored it to full scale, so that it could be displayed in a different way. The idea was to display it on the platform of the new line station, at the spot where it was found. The station named "Akti Poseidonos" in the port of Piraeus (near gate E8 area). We were assigned to redesign and correct the drawings so that they would be readable by our laser cutter. We were then supplied with the material to be used ,which was Zimbabwean granite, so that we could proceed with laser engraving. The complete reconstruction of the ancient harbour of Piraeus was made by laser engraving a total of 160 pieces of granite measuring 60*60cm mostly, as well as some specifically cut pieces measuring 120*60cm. These tiles were not squared but they were water-cut so as to follow the actual design of the remains. In fact, they carried some perpendicular sides on each other and some squared ones adapted to the natural shape of the relics. Moreover, we were asked to reproduce a quite complex design, because each tile would be of a unique design which as part of a whole would represent the foundations of the ancient port of Piraeus. The process required specific moulds to be made, so that the tiles would be fully aligned on the laser cutter's working space, in order to be properly engraved (engraving across the entire surface of the granite tile, to avoid gaps or incomplete shapes). As soon as pattern engraving procedure was carried out, each tile was numbered so that we could identify which pattern referred to which piece. The total laser engraving was 62m * 1.2m, it is the largest non-stop engraving in the world, indeed. Special wooden boxes were built for where the plates would be placed and carried to the final location for their installation. Proper packaging foam was used to ensure safe transfer, protecting the cargo from scratches and breakage.