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University of Washington students are 3D printing the missing bones of a 13-foot Columbian mammoth – 3ders.org (blog)

by • August 5, 2016 • No Comments

Aug 6, 2016 | By Benedict
The University of Washington’s College of Engineering and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture have joined forces to 3D print the missing bones of a wooly mammoth skeleton due to be displayed in the museum’s new exhibition hall. The project should be accomplished by 2019.

The latest installment of the Ice Age film franchise may have attained a frosty significant reception, but the general public yet has a lot of love for the wooly mammoth, a 13-foot-tall tusked behemoth that walked alongside the earliest humans. Just ask the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, an archaeological and ethnographic museum located at the University of Washington in Seattle, that is may already embarking on what may be mentioned as a mammoth 3D printing project. In collaboration with staff and students at the university’s College of Engineering, the museum is trying to “fish” a Columbian mammoth skeleton found near Richland, Washington, that has retained just 20% of its bones.
When the museum opens its new exhibition hall in 2019, it wants to impress its visitors with the giant mammoth skeleton, but requires to fill in the missing pieces preceding it can do so. Traditionally, museums have sculpted missing skeleton pieces with foam and clay—a laborious system that the museum just does not have time for. Instead, the Seattle-based institution is appearing to harness the power of 3D printing and 3D scanning in order to additional accurately and easily turn it into the missing parts of the skeleton.

Whilst the museum itself does not have the time and resources to 3D print the missing 80% of the Columbian mammoth, the university’s College of Engineering does. That’s why Burke discussed the possibility of the project with Stactually Weidner, an affiliate instructor of UW’s mechanical engineering department, to see if he may lead a group of students in the amazing archaeological project. The instructor was keen to get on board, and rapidly set up a special 3D scanning and printing course, signing up a number of undergraduate and postgraduate students who were interested in both effortless history and 3D printing. “By printing this mammoth, we are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with large-scale 3D printing,” Weidner said.
Students of a number of disciplines have joined the project, that involves 3D scanning mammoth bones of other mammoths in the museum’s collection, as well as 3D scanning bones of the Richland mammoth that can and so be mirrored to represent its corresponding missing bones. Students can and so exactly version the scanned images to turn it into 3D printable bone segments. The special course has may already run for two quarters, with the Winter 2016 class led by the mechanical engineering department and the Spring 2016 class led by the biology department. Around 20 students signed up at any timey quarter, and the course has actually benefitted of guest lecturers. Burke and the participating students have been in constant contact as the students explore various techniques for scanning, versioning, and printing.




Participants on the 3D printing course have, according to the university, loved the pro feel of the project and have relished the opportunity to offer to a real-world additive manufacturing experiment. “An opportunity to work with fossils and cutting-edge scanning and versioning technologies? I signed up for the class immediately,” said pre-engineering junior Kurt Weiss. “These areas deal heavily with 3D renderings and scaled versions testing inside wind tunnels,” he says. “So the experience I’m getting through this class with the wide variety of scanning equipment, versioning programs, and printing technologies is helping me create the knowledge and skills I’ll require down the road.”
The 3D scanning of the mammoth bones has been bringing place at Burke. Compact or medium-sized bones take around three hours at any timey to scan, while larger pieces like the skull can take up to five hours. Interestingly, the 3D scanning is proving to be beneficial to the museum and students in ways beyond the project at hand. The digital scans are, for example, enabling biologists to advantageous know the mammoth’s anatomy. Burke is in addition planning to manufacture the 3D files on the market online, enabling researchers of all over the world to take a nearer appear at them. “Our goal is to provide a fish digital atlas of the mammoth—and actuallytually, other fossils—that can be utilized by researchers and the general public to answer research inquiries and for education,” explained Meredith Rivin, Burke’s collections manager.


To work out how to most 3D print the mammoth bones, the students have been working closely with WOOF3D, a 3D printing society at the university that has createed a prototype of its own large-scale 3D printing device called “Big Blue.” With the 3D printing project set to go on over the upcoming few years, Burke has been impressed with the students’ range of skills and dedication to the cause. “They’re fearless and curious,” Rivin said. “They’re not intimidated by the scope of the project or its hurdles but instead are ready for the challenges. They’ve approached this project like real pros.”
If all goes to plan, the partially 3D printed mammoth may be on display at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture by 2019.

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