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Friday, January 18 , 2019, 2:11 pm | Fair 63º


Santa Barbara Central Library Puts 3D Printer to Use Creating Fossil Replicas

Tacy Kennedy of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History holds up a 3D-printed jawbone from a recently discovered early hominid species. Click to view larger
Tacy Kennedy of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History holds up a 3D-printed jawbone from a recently discovered early hominid species. ((Santa Barbara Public Library photo))

The Santa Barbara Public Library System has a new 3D printer thanks to the Orfalea Foundation.

As part of a $25,000 grant to the new Children’s Library in 2015, the 3D printer is available to the public to learn how to create 3D objects and is one of three 3D printers available during the weekly Makerspace program at Central Library on Mondays.

It was also just used to create 3D models of some recently discovered fossils.

Tacy Kennedy, the Anthropology Collections manager for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, reached out to Santa Barbara Public Library to print replicas of three bone fragments with the new 3D printer: two mandible fragments (lower jaw) and one maxilla fragment (upper jaw).

These fragments are from the new genus, Homo naledi, a previously-unknown species of extinct hominid discovered in the Dinaledi Chamber of the Rising Star cave system in South Africa. The geological age of the fossils is not yet known.

According to Kennedy, “the prints will initially become part of our hominid fossil (paleoanthropology) cast collection. In the future, we can hopefully incorporate the prints into public education about early human ancestors.”

The TAZ 5 3D printer uses HIPS plastic, has a large print bed and creates professional quality prints.

Click here to learn more about the newly discovered hominin.

The 3D scans of many skeletal elements are available to the public on the MorphoSource website, and it was from these scans that the 3D prints were produced.

For information about Makerspace at Central Library, contact Hong Lieu at 805.564.5670.

— Jody E. Thomas represents the Santa Barbara Public Library System.


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