Materialise is a Belgian 3D printing company that does not mess around – they plan to create a life-size replica of a mammoth skeleton that will be put up for display.
The re-creation will be a replica of the Mammoth of Lier, which happens to be the first mammoth that was ever put on display in Western Europe, sometime in 1869.
The company thankfully already had a few printers they had developed in-house that they used for printing one-piece dashboards and bumper prototypes for the automotive industry, so they used 15 of them for the reproduction of the large mammoth bones.
They did not play it by ear though, rest assured – they were helped by Dr. Mietje Germonpré from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, who advised them on the project.
To begin, the team had to 3D scan around 320 bones which they printed on the aptly named Mammoth Stereolithography printer. The resulting pieces will be painted with the appropriate materials so they resemble the original as much as possible.
One of the best parts about the project overall is that any structure hidden inside the fossil can be scanned and then printed out and then examined by a number of researchers without damaging the original, which will be extremely useful in the future study of fossils.
The finished model will be put on display in Lier, Belgium, in October.