Feb 14, 2018 | By Tess

The United Kingdom’s most famous dinosaur relic, named Dippy the Diplodocus, is embarking on a nationwide tour which will bring the skeleton to excited museum goers across England and Northern Ireland. The dinosaur skeleton, which has been on display at London’s Natural History Museum since 1979, will be accompanied by a couple of 3D printed skull replicas on its journey.

(Image: The Irish News)

Laser Prototypes Europe (LPE), a Belfast-based 3D printing company, was enlisted to help recreate Dippy’s large skull in 3D for a number of purposes. Using a detailed 3D scan of the dinosaur’s head (which was captured last year at the Natural History Museum), the LPE team additively manufactured eight skull replicas.

The 3D printed skull replicas are made from a lightweight but durable resin material, each weighing about 3 kg (about 6.6 lbs). “Our process was perfect for recreating the complex free-form shape of Dippy's skull, giving an exact copy of the scanned data,” explained Campbell Evans, sales director at LPE. “The project was a really interesting one for LPE, as much of our work is for electronic housings, covers, connectors, and everyday engineering components. It's not every day we see a dinosaur coming through the doors, let alone eight of them.”

Why eight 3D printed skulls, you might be wondering. Slightly unfortunately, it’s not to make a giant multi-headed dinosaur skeleton, but the 3D printed skulls will still be put to good use.

Five of the 3D printed Diplodocus heads are destined for the Real World Science partner institutions, which will use them for educational purposes. One of the remaining three will stay in London to be studied, and the final two will accompany the Diplodocus skeleton on its yearlong tour.

If you get the chance to see the Dippy the Diplodocus at any of its UK stops, you’ll also get the chance to see, examine, and possibly even hold one of the 3D printed skull replicas, which are being brought along to enhance visitors’ engagements with the Jurassic dinosaur skeleton.

Dippy the Diplodocus at its home in London's Natural History Museum

(Image: Drow Male / Wikipedia)

Currently, Dippy is being showcased at the Dorset County Museum (appropriately located on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site). Over the course of its tour, the dinosaur is expected to attract some five million visitors.

In the field of paleontology, 3D scanning and additive manufacturing are increasingly being used as a non-invasive way of replicating, studying, and closely analyzing dinosaur fossils. Because the originals are often extremely delicate, even making a mold of a fossil can damage or break the original. 3D scanning allows scientists to capture every detail of an object without coming into physical contact with it.

LPE, which helped bring the 3D printed skulls to life, was founded in 1991 as a rapid prototyping company and has employed various technologies, such as 3D printing, to create a variety of products for its clients.

Some notable projects the company has worked on include Game of Thrones and X Men. LPE also helped to produce Lady Gaga’s “magic hand” in her David Bowie tribute at the 2016 Grammy Awards.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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