Feb.22, 2012

Dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. But how did they move or stand? Did they run or walk? How did they live? We don't know much.

Yesterday a news release from Drexel University got worldwide attention and it may help to unlock the secrets about Dinosaurs. Paleontologist Dr. Kenneth Lacovara and mechanical engineer Dr. James Tangorra are working on using 3D printing to recreate Dinosaurs. They have scanned the university's collection of dinosaur fossils, analyzed the data to render a model of the dinosaur bone and then used 3D printers to create exact replicas of the fossils. They then printed out every bone and assembled these into scaled-down robotic models of the original dinosaurs.

For the first time in 150 years, paleontologists will be able to test hypotheses about how dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals moved and interacted with their environments.

Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, said, "it's simply physically impossible to manipulate the bones to test theories about mechanics and movement. That's why scaled-down replicas that preserve the exact shape and proportion of the bones can help."

If Lacovara uses traditional method of making molds and casts of those bones, the molds are five times bigger than the bones. That is very high cost and requires large space for such a project.

Using 3D printing technology A 6-inch model of a dinosaur bone can be printed in a few hours and it can produce the best replicas possible. "It's kind of like Star Trek technology, where you can press a button and the object pops out." said Lacovara.

Lacovara plans to produce a working robotic dinosaur limb by the end of the year, with a complete replica of a dinosaur coming in 2013 or 2014.

3D printing can serve paleontology in several ways - it can be used to make exact-size replicas for museum display and it can make small-scale models for educational use.

Lacovara said, "everything we know about the posture and movement of dinosaurs is pure speculation." But with 3D printing technology, researchers can begin testing their predictions for the first time, that means scientists can test those movement in real life.

See A Giant Dinosaur Bone and its 3-D Model in Philadelphia

A cast of the giant, 5.5-foot-long humerus bone of the Paralititan dinosaur is on display alongside a 1/10 scale 3-D printed model at the Franklin Institute as part of the Giant Mysterious Dinosaurs exhibit. The Franklin and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University are offering a "Giant Dinosaur Deal" combination ticket, available at the box offices of both museums through March 18, 2012 - Drexel.

Via Drexel & Forbes

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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