One of the largest Stereolithography project ever achieved in Belgium is the 3D printed reconstruction of the first mammoth skeleton.

Experts will 3D scan the 320 bones that made the skeleton, thereafter will digitally reconstruct the animal before considering its 3D printing.

The Mammoth of Lier

The original mammoth was found at Lier, (Belgian city). Since 1869, it has been on display at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels.

Before returning to its original place in Lier, the museum in Brussels collaborated with Materialise so that the company can reproduce a more modern replica of the skeleton.

The challenge

The challenge relies in representing accurately the anatomical parts of the animal. Materialise engineers therefore call for a resident paleontologist to achieve that. Furthermore, it is essential to clean up and prepare for the 3D printer using Materialise Magics software because a scan can only produce a 3D image, but with a software, it is possible to get a structurally sound 3D shape that is convenient for 3D printing.

Instead of using the original 19th century exterior mounting system, a more sophisticated interior mount structure made of carbon will be created and integrated inside the plastic bones – meaning that in the digital phase, Materialise engineers already had to think about how to fit the structure within the bones, integrating entry and exit holes in the bones for the carbon tubes. For the modular carbon structure Materialise drew on the experience of its daughter company RapidFit in the automotive tooling.  The result is a sturdy and lightweight structure weighing a mere 300 kg in total.”

 Technical details

The provider of 3D printing solutions will use a printer bed dimension of 220x70x80. Applying 1/10th of a millimeter of resin at a time, the mammoth will take more than one month to print, before being finished and painted with a combination of different paints, textures and lacquers so the bones can match the original skeleton as precisely as possible.

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