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Thread: Cat scan and 3D print fossils

  1. #1 Cat scan and 3D print fossils 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    The 12 January issue of New Scientist has, in its technology section, an item about dealing with fossils by cat scanning them and using the information gained to make a 3D life size model.

    The researchers in the field took a portable cat scanner to scan a rock containing a fossil of a 75 million year old crocodile, and determined the orientation of the fossil, permitting them to cut the rock around the fossil and return it intact to the lab. They then used a larger cat scanner in the lab to make a detailed model, and the data on a 3D printer produced a detailed model of the fossil.

    How cool is that?

    I see real possibilities here. If the data for 3D printing of fossils and other research objects is made available on the internet, anyone interested could print their own 3D model, and study the item. A much wider collaboration than could otherwise be possible.

    You could have your own collection of 3D printed model fossils. Imagine having Archaeopteryx on display in your living room.


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  3. #2  
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    Ex.cell.ent.

    But the greatest benefit will eventually be to research. Having an easier way to 'handle' unique or fragile specimens without having to move them - and pay the fearsome insurance premiums involved - and be able to do tests that were previously avoided because they might damage or destroy the real thing is absolutely wonderful thing.


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  4. #3  
    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    I love 3D printing. I told my wife they would be as common as inkjets by 2025.

    I'm constantly amazed at what people are coming up with for these printers.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  5. #4  
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    How accurate would these 3D print-outs be? Obviously I see huge potential in this. I am an archaeologist and I live in Denmark, but say I wanted to study some ornamented Aztec pottery or some stuff like that, so I download some 3D-scanned projection of said pottery and printed it from the University 3D-printer (Oh, God, I'd wish we had one... ). How accurate would de ornaments be?
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  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Accuracy of a 3D print out depends on the computer instructions fed into it. If the instructions are good, the accuracy can be amazing.

    In the case of a fossil embedded in rock, the accuracy will be limited, because rocks distort over millions of years due to geological processes, and the fossils inside distort with them. It is common for paleontologists to make an assessment, and 'correct' this distortion. How accurate the correction might be is, of course, debatable.
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