Time reports on two scientists at Drexel University who have begun using a 3D printer to create model dinosaur bones to study the prehistoric beasts.
“I can’t pick up a 1,100-pound femur and see how it articulates with a 400-pound tibia and 150-pound fibula; not without getting a hernia at least,” jokes (paleontologist Kenneth) Lacovara.
The other option was to manually create an accurate scale model of a dinosaur skeleton, a prohibitively long and complicated process. Huge molds -- which damaged fossils and were a pain to store -- had to be created. Once you had cast a model from that mold, you then had to hand it over to a sculptor who would try his or her best to faithfully recreate it.
Now all Lacovara has to do is scan each bone and the 3D printer does the rest, creating accurate replicas in a matter of hours. The idea is to create 1/10th scale models of massive dinosaurs, as well as other extinct animals such as prehistoric turtles and crocodiles, and use advanced computer models to test the stresses and strains inherent in different movements and positions.
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