Who would have thought 3D printing and dinosaurs would make such a perfect match? After recently reporting that it’s iconic Diplodocus model (So long, Dippy!) is to be removed in favour of a genuine blue whale skeleton, London’s Natural History Museum is using 3D printing to preserve another of the dinosaur’s prehistoric friends.
In a private donor assisted coup, the museum managed to purchase a rare, well-preserved skeleton of a Stegosaurus. Discovered in 2005 in Wyoming, Sophie is the world’s most complete example of a Stegosaurus skeleton and currently resides in the museum’s Earth Hall.
To uncover the mysteries surrounding this rare species, the museum partnered with Voxeljet’s modelling subsidiary Propshop to laser-scan and produce a 3D model template of the skeleton. In a bid to safeguard the rare skeleton from future damage, the files were used to 3D print replica parts for handling in cases of scientific research.
The skeleton was scanned using a Lidar non-contact handheld laser scanner and the skull, radial plates and tail bones were then 3D printed on a Voxeljet VX1000 large scale printer before finishing manually.
The results will be used to study how the dinosaur survived by carrying out thorough bone density assessments and working out how different parts of the skeleton fitted and moved in relation to various functions.
James Enright, Propshop’s Managing Director commented: “We’ve been using this mix of cutting edge technology and highly skilled craftsmanship for some time now, and it’s great to see it finding new applications and reaching new audiences. The Natural History Museum is thrilled with the scan data, the modelling and the 3D printed touch objects. It’s incredibly forward looking, and I’m certain there will be further scope for future collaboration.”