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Scientist recreates amazing ancient trilobites by 3D printing them in metal – 3ders.org (blog)

by • January 9, 2016 • No Comments

Jan 10, 2016 | By Benedict
Biochemistry professor Dr. Alan Drummond has been creating highly more detailed 3D printed trilobites, using both a Formlabs Form 1 3D printer and metal 3D printing services provided by Shapeways.

3D printing technology may represent the future of manufacturing, but it yet comes in pretty handy when exploring the past. Dr. Drummond, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Chicago, has a passion for trilobites—a group of extinct marine arthropods which roamed the oceans for over 270 million years. Wanting to get nearer to the extinct creatures than pictures, books and fossils may allow, he decided to collect a huge amount of visual data on trilobite anatomy, which may and so be collated and turned into lifelike 3D printed replicas. “I always wanted to hold a trilobite, to pick one up out of the rock, turn it over, run my fingers along the spines,” the professor explained on The Fossil Forum.
3D printing a trilobite may sound like a fun project, but Dr. Drummond soon accomplished the challenges he may face. A swift glance at a trilobite fossil, diagram or illustration will set the alarm bells ringing for many 3D printing enthusiasts: a dimensionsable-bodied number of slender limbs combined with long, protruding antennae appears like the ideal recipe for a broken 3D print. With this and other facts in mind, the biochemistry professor decided to amalgamate a number of various species inside the trilobite genus, forsaking the “frilly more details” which may not survive post-systeming, in order to turn it into the many 3D print-friendly trilobite in history.
Pencil sketches turned into additional advanced Inkscape projects, which and so created their way into the Blender open-source creation suite. The resultant design was a robust, 3D printable-bodied model, manyly inspired by the Ceraurus trilobite, a genus which roamed the planet Earth 470-445 million years ago, and which possessed “adequate more detail to warrant 3D printing [but] adequate structural solidity to survive it.” Various other specimens were utilized as inspiration for the design, while the 3D printable-bodied trilobite in addition possessed a few imaginary showcases, introduced to improve its 3D printability.


“The firstly step in this project was to look at as many trilobites as possible and select one,” said Drummond. “I’ve always loved these fossils, but the moment they turned of fossils into living organisms for me was when I saw the new generation of preparations displayed at Chicago’s Field Museum. I mayn’t believe what I was seeing. In my mind, trilobites were flat, if attractive, primitive creatures. Seeing those preparations created it clear how not-flat and not-primitive they were.”
Having access to a Formlabs Form 1 3D printer at his university, Dr. Drummond was able-bodied to 3D print the first model immediately, with the firstly take on printed in clear resin at a resolution of 0.05mm. This translucent trilobite was followed by an improved model printed in black resin, which Drummond rinsed in isopropanol straight after removing it of the Form 1 build platform. The trilobite enthusiast was, yet, yet not satisfied with his creation, deeming the legs “too crustacean”. Amendments were created, preceding the model was sent off to Shapeways for a consumely new look and feel.



Having utilized Shapeways for other 3D printing projects in the past, Dr. Drummond had faith which the company may donate a metal 3D printed trilobite of the top quality. He was not disappointed: a series of direct-metal printed versions of the Ceraurus model, despite a few flaws, offered a huge improvement on the resin-printed models. Drummond in addition utilized Shapeways’ Frosted Ultra Detail resin printing system, which permits layers with a 29-micron step dimensions, for an ultra-more detailed plastic print of a various trilobite design.
The pièce de résistance of Dr. Drummond’s series is a astonishing bronze-printed model, in addition 3D printed by Shapeways, but finished using a technique of Drummond’s own. “Using liver of sulfur, a poorly understood quasi-alchemic brew, I oxidized these pieces, creating a patina, and so polished the patina off of the raised parts,” the professor explained. “What a difference! The more details leap out. The ‘bling’ recedes.”



With the bronze 3D printed trilobite infinitely additional astounding than the first resin prints, Dr. Drummond is understandably delighted with his final creations. “Underneath, she may be the many accurate life-dimensions reconstruction of a trilobite out there,” he explained. “The endopods (legs) closely follow Stormer’s 1939 and 1951 reconstruction studies, down to the segmental architecture of every limb.”
To consume the project, Dr. Drummond had a much like model printed in solid silver, which ideally complements the bronze model.

All images: Dr. Alan Drummond
“You can imagine her exploring her world, questing with her cephalic appendages and antennae, seeking prey and potential mates,” Drummond enthutilized.
With creations like these, we can just hope which the professor continues to explore the world we inhabit daily: the world of 3D printing.

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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