3D Printing Goes Prehistoric With a Kickstarter Dinosaur Project

The number of applications for 3D printing just keeps growing. From designing parts on the fly to printing custom military hardware in the field, it seems 3D printing covers almost any imaginable project. That sounds cliché, but Paleoartist Tyler Keillor is proving the statement true.

Old Meets New

Tyler’s creations have appeared in everything from scholarly works and popular magazines. He has been restoring skeletons and reconstructing the living appearance of dinosaurs for over a decade. In that time he has never used 3D printing. But he’s decided that his latest project is the time to start. To fund the project he turned to crowd funding site, Kickstarter. According to his project page, he will use any money over the $6000 goal to fund his “stretch goals.” To date he has received $22,767 in pledges.

New World for Sculpture

This is not a careful dip into the 3D sculpture printing waters. Traditionally Tyler is known for life-sized dinosaur busts. His first 3D printing project is a full body digital sculpture of Dryptosaurus, a cousin to the Tyrannosaurs. It may seem ambitious to jump from the sculpted busts to full body 3D printed sculptures, but Tyler’s explanation of what he wants to do and how he is going to do it shows careful thought. To prepare for the change he has been immersing himself in tutorials for ZBrush, a 3D modeling and sculpting program. To make sure he has the best 3D modeling experience possible he is getting a high-end laptop dedicated to ZBrush.

3D Modeling and Printing Provide Massive Benefits

The move from clay sculpting to 3D modeling and printing means big changes for the sculptor. Working in software is less physically demanding than traditional media for any project that will print in just a few pieces. When the modeling is finished, the sculpture can be output at any scale in a very short time. If changes are needed, it only takes a few commands to make them. That versatility made several of the Kickstarter rewards Tyler is offering possible. Some of those rewards involved surface scanning earlier work and scaling it down, then printing it using a 3D Printer. Others were made by printing a mold that was used to produce the cast miniatures. The Dryptosaurus sculpture will be printed in pieces and put together.

Large-Scale Modeling’s Future

3D printing is the future of large-scale modeling. It takes less time and cost intensive, allows quick alterations and provides for scaling of the model. For artists like Tyler Keillor all of those are important. A new discovery can make his work obsolete. The ability to quickly alter it and produce corrected versions is something he never could do before. The ability to produce casts to make small, souvenir size versions was something he could have done, but not easily, and not exactly like the full size object. These are only a few of the possible benefits 3D printing could bring to projects like Digital Dinosaur: Dryptosaurus.

More info: Kickstarter project page

h/t: Wired