Robotic dinosaurs to be made with 3D printers.
Palaeontologists at Drexel University are using 3D printers to reconstruct dinosaur skeletons, which will be animated using robotics to see how the dinosaurs might have moved and behaved.
The team is first using a 3D scanner to analyse existing bones, before using a 3D printer to construct an exact replica of the skeleton. A mechanical engineer is working with the team to develop the robotic side of the project, but the 3D printing will also allow them to create small-scale models for educational use, and to create exact-size replicas for museum display, without the limitation on the number of copies made and materials and storage hassles of traditional casting methods.
The first goal is to have a working robotic dinosaur limb constructed by the end of 2012. A complete robotic dinosaur replica will take one to two years to create.
While 3D printers have been available for a few years, they have been slow to catch on with home users, instead finding niche markets like in medicine, where they have been used to print organs and tailored prosthetics for patients. The Pirate Bay launched a new category for 3D designs last month, predicting a world where “you will print your spare sparts for your vehicles. You will download your sneakers within 20 years.”
Who knows, maybe in the zoo of the future we will be wearing downloaded Nike shoes and watching a robotic Tyrannosaurus chase a newly cloned woolly mammoth!