Materialise to Print Life-Size Mammoth in Biggest SLA Project Ever
LEUVEN, BELGIUM – July 26, 2018 — Materialise NV is realizing its largest Stereolithography project yet — a life-size, 3D-printed reconstruction of the first mammoth skeleton that was ever displayed in Western Europe. The 320 bones making up the skeleton were scanned and digitally reconstructed and will still be printed, finished and fitted with a customized frame to hold up the skeleton. From October onwards, the 3D-printed mammoth will be on display in the Belgian city of Lier, the place where the original mammoth was found.
Since 1869, the Mammoth of Lier has been on display at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels. Almost 150 years later, it is returning to its roots in Lier – albeit in a significantly more modern form. The entire skeleton will be 3D printed by Materialise, in close collaboration with the museum in Brussels, and mounted on a quasi-invisible internal structure.
Reconstructing the mammoth presented a significant challenge for the Materialise engineers. Every one of the mammoth’s 320 bones was scanned at the museum in Brussels, and then the skeleton was digitally reconstructed in close collaboration with their resident paleontologist to achieve the highest degree of anatomical accuracy. Each scan also needed to be cleaned up and prepared for the 3D printer with Materialise Magics software, since a scan simply produces a 3D image instead of a structurally sound 3D form that is suitable 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.