Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Let the Printing begin!

I mentioned in a previous post that we have been scanning the skull at  local high school - Century High School in Hillsboro, Oregon. After about 16 scan sessions we have the entire skull scanned in pretty good detail. This enables us to print both the original and the mirror-image skull.

Here is half of the skull as-printed. The vertical structures under the skull are supports, automatically printed by the program to support the skull overhangs. It's not that the supports are needed to hold up the weight. Instead, the filament comes out of the moving nozzle and can't just hang in mid-air. So you need some supports to hold up overhangs until they freeze in place. The supports are made to break off fairly cleanly. The rest of the excess is then cut off with a sharp tool.
 Here is a printout of the original skull and a printout of the mirror-image. This is where 3D technology begins to show it's strengths over traditional molding and casting. Mirror images can be made with the click of a software button in 3D.

Here are the two sides held together. There is some slight distortion of the nose preventing a tight fit. However, it is still wonderful preservation. Just a little 'tweaking' with a hot air gun and they will fit.
 We have been printing out reduced sized copies for two reasons. 1) The available printers can't print such a big object in 1 piece (they are generally limited to about 8 inch (200mm) in the largest dimension) and 2) It takes a very long time to make a 3D print. Both OMSI and Century High School limit printing activities to the times the labs have people present. These prints, even at printing speeds fast enough to give a poor quality, took about 4 hours for each piece. The largest pieces below,  8 inches long, took 14 hours each!

Last, here is a short video of the assembled skull with both halves in approximately the correct configuration. The animal clearly had great sideways vision, but little or no binocular vision. And it could not see up because of the overhanging brows.It had vision more like a modern horse than a modern eagle. It does not resemble a modern iguana, crocodile or monitor lizard either. Very strange! 
Sincerely, Greg Carr

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