Tessa’s Weekly Picks – 3D Printed? Unexpected!


Tessa Blokland  


After more than 600 published blog posts on 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing, it is hard to believe that you can still stumble upon something unexpected in the application of this relatively new technology. I have found some really nice unexpected examples in which 3D printing is used.

Dutch research institute for biodiversity, Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden (the Netherlands), 3D printed a life-sized replica of its Tyrannosaurus rex, which is being shipped to Japan. Over the past few years, Naturalis has painstakingly made 3D scans of every single bone in Trix the T.rex’s skeleton. Based on these scans, a modeler made a three-dimensional design and reconstructed the bones that were missing. Employees of Naturalis and the Leiden School for Instrument Makers (LIS) then assembled the prints into a kit that is easier to assemble. This way, the Dinosaur Museum in Nagasaki (Japan) will not receive hundreds of separate prints, but “only” 50 larger parts. Due to the Coronavirus, the staff of the Dinosaur Museum will have to assemble the T-rex themselves, aided by Naturalis through online meetings.

Believe it or not, but these perfectly manicured nails are 3D printed. CEO and co-founder Jooyeon Song mentions on the website: “I was intimidated by the shared tools and the drills used to remove gel manicures. I dreamed that changing my nail style could be as simple as changing my shoes. And while I explored the limited selection of “stick-on” nails, they weren’t a seamless fit for my nail size and I didn’t want to sacrifice quality.” Together with David Miro Llopis, she found ManiMe, a beauty tech company with toxin-free, cruelty-free, and custom-fit 3D printed nails. As soon as they are available in Europe I will try them!

These 3D printed fingers are part of the reconstruction of the fingers of a marble funeral sculpture, by artist Vincenzo Vela, at the Borromeo d’Adda Chapel in Arcore, near Milan. Thanks to 3D scanning of the fractured hand and a chalk sketch stored in another museum, the team redesigned the whole set of fingers (see top images), with particular attention to the proportions and style of the artist, as Mattia Mercante, the restorer of this sculpture, mentioned on the website.

Another example of 3D printing in the arts is the Unseen Art project, run by Helsinki-based designer Marc Dillon. He used 3D printing to give blind people the opportunity to “see” classical art that sighted people might take for granted. On the image, you can see a 3D printed version of the Mona Lisa in grey material, since the use of color is not relevant.

The last example of unexpected use of 3D printing I have found in this geoscientific project. Hongkyo Yoon, a geoscientist at Sandia National Laboratories, developed a method with squeezed 3D printed rocks. The 3D printed rocks are being cracked and the sound of the rocks breaking would make it possible to identify early signs of earthquakes. The controlled laboratory setting makes it possible to “train” a deep-learning algorithm to identify signals of seismic events faster and more accurately than conventional earthquake monitoring systems, as the website explains. This is I think a life-saving research, making the unexpected expected!

LEO Lane_Weekly Pick_3D Printed? Unexpected!

Each of Tessa’s weekly picks is a curated group of 3D printed designs, based on the week’s chosen theme. If you would like to offer a theme for Tessa, or if you have your 3D printed weekly picks you would like to see featured, please let us know by commenting below. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest weekly picks every week in your mailbox.

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