Tuesday 17 September 2013

Guest Blog - Comparing some 3D printers with GB3D fossils

3D Printing Fossils from the GB3D Type Fossils Online Database

Guest Blog by Cris Fowers, www.whiteclouds.com

The GB3D Type Fossils Online project perfectly demonstrates the potential of 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies that will benefit professionals, professors, students, and fossil enthusiasts. The huge advantage to having a database of downloadable 3D fossils is that now anyone from anywhere in the world can not only view a high definition image, but also 3D print a fossil replica. And the fossil can be downloaded and printed by as many people who want it.

The ability to study a physical object that you can hold, touch, and turn in your hands far surpasses looking at an image alone. It becomes a tangible study aid.

If you can, imagine a classroom where students have instant access to thousands of fossils that are stored in an archive on the other side of the world. This scenario can be applied to many sciences, not just paleontology. I see this as the beginning to more databases of downloadable objects in the future that will further education and research.      

I was curious to see how the downloaded files would print. In our lab here at WhiteClouds, I printed the apoderoceras mutatum (Simpson) fossil (Fossil specimen: BGS GSM26406 – Holotype) on four different 3D printers, using four different materials, to see how the models compared. I used the MakerBot Replicator 2, Stratasys Mojo, ZPrinter 650, and the ProJet 3500 HDMax. Here are the results of each print:

MakerBot Replicator 2
Technology: Fused Filament Fabrication
Material: PLA (natural color)

Overall, the print turned out well with fairly good detail. I printed the model with a raft and supports which were necessary to print this fossil. A downside to using the MakerBot is the support material was a little difficult to remove and left some marks on the back of the fossil. However, the MakerBot’s model provides an overall good representation of the fossil.

I would recommend printing in a non-transparent color. The transparency of the natural colored filament makes it more difficult to see the fine details in the fossil. It also allows you to see the inside fill pattern, especially under bright lights. 

Stratasys Mojo
Technology: Fused Filament Fabrication
Material: ABS

The Stratasys Mojo also uses fused filament fabrication technology but prints with ABS filament. The detail of the Mojo’s model was slightly better than that of the MakerBot’s. That might be attributed to the opaque material. The big advantage to printing a fossil on a commercial ABS printer, like the Mojo, Fortus, or UPrint, is the support material is soluble. This is beneficial because the model won’t have any defects caused by removing the support material.

I printed the fossil in standard white and it printed nicely.  

ZPrinter 650
Technology: Binder Jetting
Material: Sandstone-like (multi-color)

The ZPrinter 650 prints in a material that feels like a smooth sandstone and it prints in full-color. The finished product is almost fossil-like. This, in my opinion, produced the most accurate model. The colors matched almost perfectly with the image of the original fossil and the detail is amazing. Because of how the binder jetting technology works, defects because of the support material isn’t an issue.

The one drawback to fossils printed with the ZPrinter is they are more fragile. If you were to drop the model on a hard surface, there’s a good chance it will break or chip.   

ProJet 3500 HDMax
Technology: Multi-jet Modelling
Material: UV-Cured Resin

I also printed the fossil on a ProJet 3500 HDMax by 3D Systems. Of the four printers I used, this one has the highest resolution. The detail is best on this model; you are able to see even the fine cracks in the fossil. However, because of the transparency of the material, it is harder to see the detail in the fossil.

The support material on the ProJet melts away, leaving the surface touching the support material undamaged.

Overall, I was very happy with the results on all of the printers. These fossils are a treasure, and through modern technologies, can be enjoyed by people around the globe. 

Cris Fowers

Friday 13 September 2013

Competition winners !

The results of the competition are in, and here is the list of the regional winners. 

If you can find your name on this list then you have won a prize provided by your local museum. If we have put an asterisk next to your name, we can’t get hold of you – please contact the museum where you entered and they will sort you out!

New Walk Museum, Leicester
Freddie (surname unknown)    
Marcus Weston               
Charlie Plews    
Harjot Singh
Isla Clifford
Wollaton Hall, Nottingham
Tia Askem
Josh Brookes
Aaron Brown
Matt Robinson
Joshua Hemsley
The Yorkshire Museum
Imogen Crabtree
Phoebe Schuster
Zoe Baker
Dongmei Liang
Grosvenor Museum, Chester
Emi Mayman
Keisha (Second name unknown)
Potteries Museum, Stoke-on-Trent
Daniel Tatham
Ben Walters
Katie Morris
Daniel James Dick
Maddison Martin
Hancock Museum, Newcastle
Alistair Potts
Abigall Day
Emma Mulvaney
Caitlin Ashley
Alex Winter
Buxton Museum & Art Gallery
Chloe Needham
Katie Bradd
Daniel Williams
George Fox
Autumn Nixon
RAMM Exeter
Ayla-May Lake
Jazmin Evans
James Cooke
Lola Morgans
Zachary Rees
Amgueddfa Cymru : National Museum Wales
Geoff Smith
Callum Buckley
Dejan Kukic
Ryan Billings-Wakerry
Rotunda Museum Scarborough
Benjamin Vezlock
Lucy Lanfear
Daniel Rose
Tyler Jones
Amy Cooper
Dorset County Museum
Rachel Stevens
Declan Wright
Benjamin Webb
Samuel Keaton
Zak Millward
Warwickshire Museum
Alwen Price
Adam Price
Thomas Varnish
Lloyd Hughes
Dinosaur Isle, Sandown
Chris Mumby
Lauryn Lewis
James Watson
Russel Espino
Miss K Crang
British Geological Survey
London Information Office
Hazel Williams
Paul Varotsis
Ronni Adams
Clive Richardson
Eduard Tiron
Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge
Thomas Luck
Chris Wayland
Christopher Norman
Rufus Skelton
Greta Norman
Perth Museum
Jennifer McCafferty
Jasmine Hossack
Ryan McCullie
Jamie Allan
Jacqui Caldwell
Leeds Museum
Debby Gallagher

Once we have made contact with the winners and verified that they are valid entries, we will proceed to the main prize draw. This is likely to take just over a week.

Thursday 5 September 2013

The Competition at Dinosaur Isle

Guest blog from Alex Peaker of Dinosaur Isle...

One of the museums participating in the 3D printed fossil competition is Dinosaur Isle.

At Dinosaur Isle there is a slightly different competition running, to try and spot which is the real claw of the dinosaur Neovenator, and which is the claw that has been made by the British Geological Survey using a 3D printer. They have taken what was originally a white plastic cast, and painted it to match the colours of the real fossil. 

The real fossil and the cast have been put together and marked A and B and all you have to do is recognise which is which.

In the first week of the competition Dinosaur Isle has had over two hundred entries to the competition, and on the 12th September 5 winners will be drawn from those who got the right answer. Up for grabs for each winner is a family ticket to join onto one of the museums fossil walks, and also to be entered into the national draw.

You don’t have to visit the museum to enter the competition, just visit the website http://www.dinosaurisle.com and have a go.

Alex Peaker