Cutting edge 3D scanning & printing are helping palaeontologists recreate prehistoric creatures
Very rarely are complete dinosaur skeletons uncovered. Recently, palaeontologists from Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History embarked upon a novel solution to this problem using 3D modelling techniques. The palaeontologists collaborated with engineers from the Center for Shape Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (SEAM) who assisted with 3D scanning, 3D printing and 3D modelling technologies for recreating complete juvenile apatosaurus skeletons for display.
The original recovered juvenile apatosaurus bones comprised only 15% of the complete skeleton. Several 3D modelling strategies were employed:
First engineers used a FARO 3D scanning arm to accurately scan the original bones into 3D digital models.
Secondly, missing bones such as those in a leg were able to be formed in 3D software easily by mirroring the recovered scanned bones across to the missing side.
Thirdly, bones of the adult apatosaurus on display were 3D scanned to be manipulated and scaled down in Freeform software to fit the juvenile proportions. Some inaccessible bones on the adults specimens were crafted entirely in Freeform using the haptic interface that provides force-feedback allowing a user to sculpt virtually with clay.
Finally, the complete juvenile apatosaurus models were 3D printed and casts taken off for making molds suitable for museum display.
Apatosaurus image via wikipedia
David is an industrial designer from New Zealand. He contributes a weekly 3D print or CNC article for Ponoko. You can follow him on Twitter @dizymac