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drexel university

Recreating dinosaurs with 3D printing

Researchers at Drexel University are using 3D scanning and printing technologies to create robotic dinosaurs that might be able to provide us with more information about how dinosaurs actually moved around.

With life-sized dinosaur bones, it's difficult to test theories about how they might have fitted together, and how the animal might have moved. Using 3D printed replicas, though, that's easier. Dr Kenneth Lacovara, a palaeontologist, has teamed up with Dr James Tangorra, a mechanical engineer, and together they're working on scanning fossilised bones and recreating them on a smaller scale, so that artificial muscles and tendons can be added, which should lead to a better understanding of the mechanics of the dinosaurs.

3D printing can also be used to create replicas of the dinosaur fossils for display in other museums, much like the Smithsonian's project to share its archive with other museums.

“Technology in paleontology hasn't changed in about 150 years,” says Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, an associate professor at Drexel University. “We use shovels and pickaxes and burlap and plaster. It hasn't changed -- until right now.”

Find out more from Drexel University's website.