3D PRINTING FOR FOSSIL REPRODUCTION WITH 3D SYSTEMS PROJET 660
Author: Courtney Link | 3D Printing Production & Finishing Artist | BA Anthropology & Religion, Diploma – Museum Studies
In April 2016, Stephen Vickers, a 3D Survey Specialist with EllisDon Virtual Construction Services, came to Objex Unlimited with the challenge of reproducing fossils he found locally along the Etobicoke Creek in Toronto, Ontario. The area had been undergoing erosion control and had strong, varying currents and water levels, which may have led to the discovery of the fossils.
The fossils being reproduced include three Conical Nautiloids Orthoceras, a straight cephalopod, and one unknown tooth or bone. The Orthoceras Cephalopod is a long-lost ancestor of the modern day squid and octopus that lived between 250 and 480 million years ago. Orthoceras means “straight horn”, and refers to its elongated long straight shell (Figure 1). The fossils vary in colour but all have the similar long tubular indentations (Figure 2). These types of fossils have been found across the world indicating this marine cephalopod was plentiful and thriving for some time. The other fossil, of unknown origin, resembles some sort of tooth or bone (Figure 3).
The fossils were scanned by the company EllisDon, a construction company that offers virtual design and construction, using a FARO ScanArm®. This type of scanner differs from those used for typical object scanning, such as other handheld mobile scanners, like the Artec Spider or Eva. The ScanArm is a metrology probe with non-contact laser scanning sensor that provides high-precision 3D measurement and imaging used in a variety of industries. The scans were modelled using open source software MeshLab for surface reconstruction. Each scan was completed in under an hour by Vickers himself at low resolution for a speedy demo at the EllisDon office. Although the scanning was minimal, they captured enough data to create identical replicas of the face, and most sides of each fossil. Despite using state of the art scanners, EllisDon did not have their own 3D printer and found that those offered for use through public libraries were limited in their technological abilities. They brought this problem to Objex Unlimited in the hopes that the scans could be reproduced and 3D printed.
Figure 1: Tamura, Nobu. “Paleoart Portfolo.” Spinops, n.d. 05 May 2016. http://spinops.blogspot.ca/
The 3D models were printed on a 3D Systems ProJet® 660Pro ColourJet printer using VisiJet® PXL™, a sandstone-based powder. The ProJet®660Pro is a professional full-colour printer, however due to the composition of the fossils they were printed in white and hand-painted in order to capture the beautiful organic colours exhibited by the naturally occurring aggregates. One of the biggest challenges when reproducing fossils, or similar stone artifacts, is the variety of colours and textures present on one surface. Although the printers can achieve high quality color variations, they have yet to reach the perfection of precise colour variation that can be reached with hand painting.
Once removed from the print bed, the fossils go through a standard post-processing procedure that is typical for sandstone prints (figure 4). The object is first sanded using various tools, and depending on the texture of the object, additional sanding is often required. For these objects in particular, minimal sanding was ideal as not to remove the delicate and detailed surface textures. Next, the infiltration process occurs, ensuring each fossil is coated with cyanoacrylate, a type of glue, which strengthens the models. To add additional strength to the models for frequent handling, an additional coating of B-72 was applied.
Paraloid B-72, a thermoplastic resin, has been used successfully for significant increase in strength for sandstone parts, it also acts as a protective barrier for the raw model decreasing the risk of damage from water and oils from handling.
In this particular case, once the objects were fully infiltrated, the painting process began: using oil paints, the models were hand painted over several days. The art of painting fossils and rocks is working with washes and layers, which can be a very long process since each coat of paint should dry fully before moving on to the next one. A variety of colours were used including reds, greens, and browns. Fine details and speckling were part of the final touches followed by a clear coat. When creating models that will be handled frequently, a clear coat is absolutely essential in order to protect the model itself and keep the paint finish.
Creating replicas of fossils or other artifacts within private and museum collections is beneficial for both the institution and the visitors. By providing replicas as part of displays or programming activities, visitors are able to physically handle objects, creating a more immersive and engaging environment. In the past hands-off policies have been strictly enforced in museums and similar institutions. Recently, there has been a trend towards increasing more hands-on activities; this past year the MET allowed visitors to touch some of the world’s most famous paintings in an attempt to increase attendance and visitor engagement. What many people don’t know is that even natural oils from human hands can cause damage to some artifacts, no matter how gentle the handling is.
When reproductions are used, not only can guests handle an array of objects freely, but the originals are at no risk of deterioration. With increasing interest in accessibility, especially in Ontario with the Accessibility Act, these sorts of objects are extremely useful for aiding individuals with disabilities, such as blindness, in having equal opportunity to enjoy exhibits and participate in programming activities.
Vickers is one of many professionals in this field seeking to engage the community on a whole new level. As many cultural professionals have begun to embrace the possibilities of 3D scanning and printing, it is evident that creating a more interactive space in our institutions is important. With models that can be handled visitors connect with the content and physical objects on a new level, not only are we being engaged visually, but now tactilely.
Traditionally, museum objects, similar to the fossils, have been reproduced using molding and casting techniques, which can be invasive with the potential to cause damage to the items (figure 5). The first step of the process involves applying a removable protective coating. The artifact is then set up in plasticine and the mold is created over several days. Generally, silicone molds are made with a more rigid mother mold, often fiberglass or plaster. The replica is then cast using a resin or the desired finished material, depending on the object being reproduced, and the artifact must be cleaned following the mold-making process. The entire process can take up to a week or longer depending on the complexity of the artifact. Sometimes if an object is abstract in form, the casting process can take several attempts in order to produce a lifelike replica without imperfections.
By utilizing 3D scanning, the entire process of artifact reproduction becomes easier and less invasive. By minimizing the handling of the object, conservators diminish the risks to the artifact and greatly reduce time spent waiting on the molding materials to cure. In addition, 3D scanning and printing is more cost-effective; the process saves both time and money, as demonstrated in Table 1. The costs for reproductions created using traditional molding and casting are based on a Junior Conservator’s fees as of December 2015. Costs include the reproduction of the 3 small sized fossils.
3D TECHNOLOGIES vs. TRADITIONAL MOLDING & CASTING METHODS
Each of the fossil replicas was completed successfully with the data provided. In the future, a high-resolution scan of all sides of the object would be beneficial in order to recreate the entire object. At Objex Unlimited, we have had great success scanning a variety of objects, big and small, using the Artec Eva and Artec Spider scanners offered by OEM Artec 3D.
If we think back to how our reproduction process began, the scanning process, the opportunities for safe guarding collections and rare objects go beyond reproductions. Many institutions have begun to incorporate 3D scanning as a conservation and collections management tool. The scans can be used to track deterioration, document the object themselves, not to mention open up the collection to the masses by implementing digital databases.
The fossils, and replicas, part of Vickers private collection were on display at the 2016 Ontario Heritage Conference in Stratford, Ontario from May 12-14. The 3D scans of the fossils, among other objects, can be accessed online through Vickers’ Sketchfab (svickers).
April 24, 2017 09:00 ET
Artec 3D Releases Artec Studio 12 Software Featuring Enhanced 3D Intelligence, Speed and Workflow
New Intelligence-Based Software Saves Post-Processing Time with 28 New Features for New and Experienced Users
PALO ALTO, CA–(Marketwired – Apr 24, 2017) – Artec 3D, a developer and manufacturer of professional 3D hardware and software, today announced the launch of Artec Studio 12, the newest version of its state-of-the-art software for professional 3D scanning and data processing. Following the footsteps of the next generation AI-based 3D scanner Artec Leo, the intelligence-based Artec Studio 12 software boasts enhanced speed, an improved user interface, and new automated features that minimize the time needed for scanning and processing. It incorporates 28 new features, 75
percent of which were based upon customer requests.
“The feedback we receive from our customers is one of the most valuable resources we possess,” said Artyom Yukhin, president and CEO of Artec 3D. “With Artec Studio 12, we took our direction from our users to create the most advanced software yet. The new features will dramatically lower the time needed for post-processing for both experienced and new customers alike, without sacrificing quality.”… Read more
3D Printing brings a whole new dimension to the world of engineers, fabrication and designers. We’ve discussed at length in previous articles the many misconceptions about the world of 3D Printing. In the following article, I’ll focus on the true value of having a 3D Printer in your workflow as an engineer or designer. Just like anything else, a 3D Printer is only one tool among many. But using the right tool for the right job will open new possibilities. It can cut costs, and most significantly, save time.
There’s a lot of hype in the consumer market right now. We all hear of big dreams of a 3D Printer of every home. But currently the technology really shines in prototype development. In particular, this is true for engineers and designers involved in new product development or the redesign of existing products. The ability to get your hands on prototype components, assemblies and complete products and review design issues, improvements and changes is quite simply, invaluable.
The speed of 3D prints
Whether you’re building a tool or fixture, designing a new product, or developing a prototype, as an engineer or designer, you need to fail often and recover quickly. As we know, creating the best possible part design usually requires multiple iterations and redesigns. Previously you would have to wait weeks or even months to see a physical version of your design. But now, 3D Printing has made it possible to get that part created the same day or the next day. This allows creators to print the design quickly, review errors or find improvements, make the changes to the file and print again within a very short time frame.
Today, you can go through 10 iterations in the same time it used to take to complete one using traditional manufacturing methods. Even if that print takes hours or days to complete, you’re still cutting your production cycle down to a fraction of the time spent using traditional methods. Rest assured, there is immense value in turning a design into an object in a timely manner.
Complexity is free
This is a phrase you’ll hear thrown around quite a bit in the world of Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing). Traditional manufacturing processes have certain limitations. If you’re using milling or using CNC (Computer Numerical Control) to create a part, you’re removing material from the outside of your block of material and working your way inward. This means any kind of complex internal shape is usually impossible. A CNC machine cannot wrap around corners, but when you’re building from the bottom up, the 3D printer has no problem building organic, complex shapes and structures. If you’re using injection molding, you have to worry about hollow parts, drafting and maintaining wall thickness.
3D Printing doesn’t care about complexity. As long as you’re using some kind of support material system for your part – and using the right material and print method for the job – the complexity of your designs are virtually limitless. Please note that each individual printer will have it’s own limitations you’ll have to work within. However, having access to multiple printer technologies will give you a lot more freedom.
Markforged offers a wide range of 3D Printers all specializing in creating parts strong enough for actual everyday use. Developed and manufactured in the United States, these are the only printers on the market that can print parts as strong as aluminum. Their printers generally use two printheads. One builds Nylon parts (or the amazing proprietary Onyx material). The other is a revolutionary new printhead that extrudes composite materials to reinforce the nylon to make solid, strong-as-aluminum 3D Prints. The composite materials used in the machine are Carbon Fibre, Fiberglass and Kevlar, and High-Strength High Temperature Fiberglass.
The reinforced prints are up to 30 times stronger and 30 times stiffer than ABS 3D-Printed parts. Furthermore, the carbon fibre prints have a higher strength-to-weight ratio than 6061 aluminum. This enables you to create fully functional parts on the printer – rather than pieces prototyped simply for fit before being machined from metal.
Markforged offers a range of options for those looking for more than the standard plastic-jet printers in the ‘prosumer’ price range. Starting at $3499 USD with the Onyx One 3D Printer. Even at its low price point, it has a place in the professional environment. It’s an excellent addition to the Engineer or Designer’s desktop (and totally safe for office use).
The printer ships with everything you need to get started. Including cloud-based Eiger software, giving you full control over customizing your 3D Printed composite fibre model. If you need more materials, you can opt for the Onyx Pro, which has the ability to reinforce with Fiberglass, or the Mark Two, which can print the full range of materials available. Additionally there’s the Mark X, which can print everything the Mark Two can print. However, it has a much larger build size and has a built in scanner to check the part for deficiencies during the print cycle.
Not sure if this printer fits your needs? Give us a call!
If you have any questions, want to see the printers in action, or are looking to order, please don’t hesitate to contact Objex Unlimited 3D Print Studio. You can also read more about the Markforged printers at www.objexunlimited.com
3D Systems is again pushing the envelope with new products to their lineup that support the usage of 3D Printers for end-manufactured parts. With new capabilities to accelerate additive manufacturing, the new products and materials were introduced to support the growing demand for investment casting, jewelry and dental markets, while extending its leadership in precision metal production for healthcare and aerospace.
The brand new ProJet MJP 2500W
In addition to the previous lineup of the ProJet MJP 2500 and the ProJet MJP 2500Plus, 3D Systems has the a wax printer to the lineup: the ProJet MJP 2500W. The brand new wax printing system, along with the new VisiJet® M2 CAST RealWax™ material, is designed from the ground up for applications in jewelry and industrial casting. The new wax system combines the precision of the successful MJP 2500 platform with a next-generation 100% real wax material to deliver precise, durable, high-resolution patterns.
New materials for the ProJet MJP 2500
Along with the new wax material for the ProJet MJP 2500 series, they have also introduced new VisiJet materials for the MJP 2500 platform with rigid properties for applications such as snap-fit assemblies. The advancements include a breakthrough dental model material in rigid tan (VisiJet M2R-TN), the most optimal colour for dental models to deliver superior visual contrast and precision. Other new materials include rigid black (VisiJet M2R-BK), rigid white (VisiJet M2R-WT) and rigid clear (VisiJet M2R-CL).
New ProJet CJP 260Plus (and upgrade program for ProJet 260C)
In full-colour 3D printing, 3D Systems unveiled the ProJet CJP 260Plus for anatomical modelling in healthcare and concept modelling for accelerated product development. The ProJet CJP 260Plus is the company’s most compact printer for fast and affordable full-colour 3D printing, and offers full CMY colour in a closed-loop powder loading, removal and recycling system.
In conjunction with the introduction, the company is offering a program for current owners of 3D Systems’ ProJet CJP 260C to upgrade to the ProJet CJP 260Plus.
We’d like to thank Andy Bell for contributing this guest blog post!
3D printing has finally become an integral part of society and the manufacturing industry. Several years ago, 3D printing was just an idea, but it was a powerful idea. The thought of being able to print whatever you want in many sizes was exciting. People weren’t sure how that would work considering that it’s never been done before. The whole concept of 3D printing is astonishing: Pick a design, edit it and print it! You can even make your designs in 3D modeling computer programs which are great for people who want to have unique items around them. However, 3D printers aren’t cheap. My school’s 3D printer cost around $5.000 which is not affordable for regular people. However, some cheap, home variants cost around ~$500.
So how can businesses benefit from 3D printers? Well, imagine being able to 3D print anything you want and use it as promotional material. This is exactly how you can use 3D printers to your advantage. Let’s expand a bit.
When you look at the industry objectively, you’ll notice that 3D printing has made quite an advancement. Thanks to the way it works and the many possibilities that 3D printing offers, the market for it keep growing. And it’s growing extremely fast! Many businesses are now turning towards 3D printing to take care of specific needs. For example, game companies have started utilizing the flexibility of 3D printing to offer collector’s items to fans. You can find special editions of some games that contain a 3D printed item. In the end, this sort of thing is good for the industry as 3D printing will keep getting more and more popular and useful. Also, if you have an increased production of 3D printers, you also have lower prices for them.
Most affordable and easiest way to get started
In all honesty, you might want to consider starting small. Wasting a lot of money for a big, powerful printer can cause an effect opposite of what you wanted. Start out small! Smaller printers are fairly cheap when your business doesn’t have a lot of capital, and you’ll be able to pay off the cost relatively soon. Alternatively, you can rely on a 3D Print Service Bereau to get into the game, and see if 3D Printing works for you. Once you purchase the printer, don’t rush into it. Carefully learn how it works and what its capabilities are. Any wrong move may cause damage to the printer or yourself. Once it’s all set up, plan exactly what you want to print, how many times, and for what purpose. When you have the answer to all of these questions, you’ll be ready to start printing!
3D print promotional goods for creative advertising campaigns
This is where the power of 3D printing becomes most useful when it comes to businesses. With a 3D printer, you’ll be able to create amazing and creative advertising campaigns that will surely lead to customers becoming more interested in your business. You can gain this effect no matter what you come up with, as long as it’s creative, it’s helpful and useful! Think of how many things you’ll be able to make that are directly related to your business. No one likes lazy advertisements that make absolutely no sense, and lately, we haven’t been seeing a lot of good ones. Be different and consider 3D printing!
3D modeling and design service
Consider the following: You have a relatively large customer base. One day, a customer writes you an E-mail asking if you could 3D print something for them. You don’t specialize in 3D printing, and your business isn’t centred around it, but you still have a 3D printer for advertising. However, you are able to use this printer and charge a very small fee to the customer for 3D printing something they want. Hence, you make the customer happy, and you earn a bit more money. This is the reason why 3D printing is so popular! It’s versatile and can be used in many different situations.
-Andy Bell @ www.toronto3dprinting.com