Tag Archives: animals

3D Printed Pets: Researchers Scan and 3D Print Animal Skeletons

3D Printed Pets Comparison

3D Printed Pets

3D printing is now being used for nearly everything, but what about 3D printed pets?

Researchers at Notre Dame have combined their study of Biological Sciences with 3D printing. The team created a method for CT scanning anesthetized animals, such as rats and rabbits, converting the scans into contiguous 3D models, and then 3D printing the animal skeletons on a range of 3D printers.

Here is the abstract for their publication on this research.

Three-dimensional printing allows for the production of highly detailed objects through a process known as additive manufacturing. Traditional, mold-injection methods to create models or parts have several limitations, the most important of which is a difficulty in making highly complex products in a timely, cost-effective manner. However, gradual improvements in three-dimensional printing technology have resulted in both high-end and economy instruments that are now available for the facile production of customized models. These printers have the ability to extrude high-resolution objects with enough detail to accurately represent in vivo images generated from a preclinical X-ray CT scanner. With proper data collection, surface rendering, and stereolithographic editing, it is now possible and inexpensive to rapidly produce detailed skeletal and soft tissue structures from X-ray CT data. Even in the early stages of development, the anatomical models produced by three-dimensional printing appeal to both educators and researchers who can utilize the technology to improve visualization proficiency. The real benefits of this method result from the tangible experience a researcher can have with data that cannot be adequately conveyed through a computer screen. The translation of pre-clinical 3D data to a physical object that is an exact copy of the test subject is a powerful tool for visualization and communication, especially for relating imaging research to students, or those in other fields. Here, we provide a detailed method for printing plastic models of bone and organ structures derived from X-ray CT scans utilizing an Albira X-ray CT system in conjunction with PMOD, ImageJ, Meshlab, Netfabb, and ReplicatorG software packages.

3D Printer Comparison

The research team used three different methods for 3D printing the skeletons: consumer 3D printer MakerBot, 3D printing service Shapeways, and industrial 3D printer ProJet HD 3000.

3D Printed Pets Comparison

Below is a detailed comparison:

Method of Printing Advantages Disadvantages Cost per Model
MakerBot Extremely fast, variety of color options, able to print in two colors, extremely inexpensive Lowest level of detail. Removal of support materials is slow (on the order of a couple hours). $3.50
Shapeways Varity of color options, variety of materials for printing, high level of detail, relatively inexpensive Two-week time to process and receive an order $41.61
ProJet HD 3000 Relatively quick turnaround, highest level of detail, high throughput, easy to remove support materials (wax). Most expensive up front cost ($80,000 equipment), only one color option during practical use. $30.00

A video is available that walks through their method of scanning and a comparison of the results. You can watch the video at the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). Chapters include:

0:05 Title
1:41 Image Acquisition and Data Processing
4:21 Makerbot Printing
6:33 Shapeways Printing
7:32 ProJet HD 3000 Printing
8:45 Results: 3D Printed Models
10:39 Conclusion

Video: Beauty and the Beak; a Bald Eagle’s 3D Printing Story

Bald Eagle 3D Printed Beak

Here’s a great story. Beauty the Bald Eagle gets a second chance with help from 3D printing technology.

A bald eagle was shot and lost her upper beak. A “bionic beak” was fabricated using software designed for the aerospace industry, then 3D printed and affixed to the bald eagle in an elaborate procedure.

Shot and edited by Keith Bubach for Evening Magazine (KING-TV). 2008 Emmy winner.


Bald eagle photo by andrewprice001 used under Creative Commons license.