Collaboration between paleontologist Jeffrie Parker, of Western Paleo Labs, and Kirk Brown, of Stratasys reseller GoEngineer, resulted in a fantastic 3D printed dinosaur! The 3D printed model of a Dryosaurus, which was unearthed by Parker in central Wyoming, was created on a uPrint SE Plus 3D Printer from Stratasys.
A long-time employee of GoEngineer, Brown’s experience 3D printing the Dryosaurus was exciting. “I like having a project like this to work on because it’s nice when we work on living history and open up our eyes to the endless possibilities of 3D printing,” he explained to the Stratasys blog.
At 50 inches by 15 inches, the Dryosaurus was the largest dinosaur ever 3D printed at GoEngineer. The Dryosaurus skeleton served as proof that a high-quality model of a dinosaur could be made on a uPrint SE Plus. After excavation, Parker 3D scanned the bones of the Dryosaurus. The 20 resulting STL files were then 3D printed in five batches on the uPrint SE Plus in ivory ABSplus material.
Dryosaurus altus lived during the Late Jurassic period. Fossil evidence of this dinosaur has been found in the western United States and in Tanzania. Based on Dryosaurus remains, scientists believe that it stood about 5 feet tall, had excellent eyesight (large eyes), and used a long tail as a counter-balance to reach high speeds (necessary when you’re trying to outrun a carnivore!)
Why is 3D Printing Important for Paleontology?
Paleontology might seem to be classically slow moving because, let’s face it, the subjects are extinct. Traditional methods of making dinosaur models are a multi-step process involving clay sculpting, silicone rubber molds, and casting the bones in resin.
But the speed and accuracy of professional-quality 3D printing are very appreciated by the experts at Western Paleo Labs. Parker told the Stratasys Blog, “3D printing allows a paleontologist to quickly reproduce a fossil bone that can be used for academic study and for building museum exhibits that can be enjoyed by everyone. Having a 3D printer is like having your own little robot factory.”
Sharing the 3D printing files and information with a worldwide audience is also an advantage, noted Parker, “The 3D printing of an object adds to our understanding of the thing and makes it real.”
What’s Next For the 3D Printed Dryosaurus?
GoEngineer 3D printed two complete Dryosaurus skeletons. One will be on display at GoEngineer’s office for customers to see. The other skeleton remains with Parker. “This Dryosaurus demonstrates what a Stratasys 3D Printer can do, and now I can print more of my dinosaurs with confidence.”
Parker is planning a 3D printed tableau from the Jurassic period that includes four dinosaurs: the Dryosaurus, which was an herbivore, plus three carnivores: two Allosaurs and a Ceratosaur. “When I 3D print this group of four dinosaurs and build the exhibit, this will show the museum world what 3D printing can do!”
This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)