Aug 14, 2017 | By Tess

If you haven’t already come across a “Crab World” advert for Zoopla, a British real estate website, we suggest you check it out. Even if you aren’t looking to buy UK property, the TV ad spot features some mighty cute hermit crabs living in some even more adorable 3D printed house-shells.

The Zoopla ad, which has gained some attention for its creativity and humor, became a reality in part thanks to 3D printing technologies, which were used to manufacture the tiny house-shells that the real-life crabs inhabit.

For the making of the ad, Zoopla reached out to Artem Ltd., a UK-based special effects company, which in turn used Stratasys’ multi-material, multi-color 3D printing technology to bring the hermit crab shells to life.

Though they may seem like novelty props, a lot of research and work went into making the 3D printed hermit crab shells. As Simon Tayler, the owner and creative director and designer at Artem Ltd., explained, the 3D printed shells had to be realistic enough for actual crabs to inhabit. Additionally, he had to consider the crabs’ safety within the shells.

To achieve Zoopla’s vision while maintaining the hermit crabs’ comfort, Tayler and his team based the 3D printed house-shells on scans taken from actual hermit crab shells at the filming location in Costa Rica. The scans enabled them to recreate the interior of a natural shell with precision.

“We were keen to do all we could to ensure that these shells weren’t rejected and would not harm the crabs,” explained Tayler. “With Stratasys’ multi-color, multi-material 3D printing, we were able to mirror every curve, bump and nook of a shell’s natural shape, including the interior.”

The house-shells themselves were 3D printed using Stratasys’ Connex3 3D Printer and were printed from the company’s Digital ABS material. In the end, Tayler and his team created a total of twenty model houses for the hermit crabs, each one defined by a popular architectural style in the UK.

“With 3D printing, we could work with minute details like individual tiles or roof or brick texture that was only 30 mm across without losing any element of realism,” added Tayler. “Thanks to the capabilities of the Stratasys Connex3 3D Printer and respective materials, each house was 3D printed in an impressive 16-micron resolution for incredible accuracy.”

Impressively, the entire process for designing and 3D printing the house-shells took only about a month. In fact, the 3D printing process on its own only took about a week, as a number of 3D printers were purportedly “running around-the-clock” to make the production deadline.

Once completed, the 3D printed hermit crab shells were brought to a beach in Costa Rica, where the filming took place. The ad spot was produced in collaboration with Riff Raff Films and creative agency 101. If you’re curious to see the advert, you can see one part of the “Crab World” advertising series below:



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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