Mammoth Unveiled

                This year Belgian software and 3D printer maker Materialise showed off its Mammoth project. The company was hired earlier this year to make a 3D replica of the Stadsmuseum Lier mammoth, which you can now visit.

                Project Engineer at Materialise, Gertjan Brienen said “I was incredibly proud to be able to call on so much experience and expertise from across our business, gained in the many diverse industrial areas we work in, and bring them together to handle the many complexities this project presented.” Brienen continues “I think what’s really exciting is that with this project, we’ve helped ancient history live on. Visitors to the Leir Museum will be able to enjoy their mammoth for centuries to come. How amazing is that!”

                “The original mammoth skeleton was discovered in 1860 in the city of Lier. As the city had no natural history museum of its own at the time, the skeleton was moved to the Museum of Natural Sciences, a part of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) in Brussels.” (1)

                320 bones of the skeleton were scanned and sent to Materialise for the replica project. Brienen explained that the replica is more accurate than the original at the museum of natural science, due to the original having damaged bones and a missing tusk. Having a team of 19 people, including a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences Dr. Mietje Germonpré to insure the replica to be anatomically correct. The tail was shortened, upper jaw was restored, and the left tusk was digitally reconstructed by mirroring the right tusk.

                Using nine Materialise Mammoth Stereolithography printers, the printers name has no relation to the project it was just a coincidence, using transparent resin and printing individual parts it took just over 52 days to finish. Printing off these massive parts actually wasn’t the most challenging part for Materialise, the hardest part was getting the 300kg, 5-meter-long, and 3.5-meter-tall skeleton to stand on its own.

                 “Materialise designed a carbon fiber support frame, which was concealed within the bones. The support is inside the bone structure and uses laser sintered polyamide fittings to hold the skeleton together.” (1) Afterwards the parts were post- processed with varnish and paint, for transportation and shipping the replica can be dismantled into 6 parts 4 legs, a core, and the head.