Complex customized productions for art and research: 3D printed dinosaurs

Designers, model builders and restorers are often faced with the challenge of turning computer animations into exact physical models. Two practical examples from the field of prehistoric research demonstrate how tasks of this kind can be managed with ease using voxeljet’s 3D printing method.

While years ago 3D printing was primarily used in the more traditional industries such as machine building, automotive industry and aviation, users from other industry segments are now following suit. Tobias King, Director Marketing & Applications at voxeljet AG, has been observing this trend for some time: “Application cases from the world of art and archeology are becoming more common at our 3D printing service center. The reason is obvious: there is no simpler method for duplicating rare finds and for reconstructing or generating historic temples, statutes or skeletons than 3D printing.” 

voxeljet’s service centers are prepared for the requirements of this client base. Different industrial printing systems can be used to print out parts or complete models of almost any size based on the division of molds. It even makes easy work of the reconstruction of dinosaur skeletons for scientific purposes. Two prehistoric giants, the Velociraptor and the Stegosaurus, have already come to life on voxeljet printers.

Eight working days to a dinosaur Skeleton

A project from dinosaur research, a 3.66 meter long Velociraptor skeleton, proves just how quickly, easily and efficiently such models can be reproduced. In the first step, the existing skeleton parts were scanned to obtain the CAD data sets required for printing. The bones, which were divided into nine categories, could then be arranged into a complete skeleton using animation programs.

It took approximately three days to print out the bones on the voxeljet printers. They were then infiltrated with epoxy resin to increase the stability of the true-to-detail printed plastic parts. To create an even better impression of the skeleton, the experienced film and stage prop experts at Propshop Productions Limited then paint brushed the parts. In the last step, the individual parts were mounted on a previously constructed steel frame, which forms the backbone of the model, so to speak. The entire project took only eight working days to complete.

Experience with “prehistoric Projects”

This is where experience from a previous dinosaur project paid off. Propshop Productions Limited had already duplicated a skeleton of a Stegosaurus (which was discovered in Wyoming (US) in 2005) on behalf of the London Natural History Museum. The 5.6 meter x 2.9 meter exhibit now occupies a place of honor in the museum's Earth Hall. The model is the world’s most complete skeleton, which offers scientists an excellent opportunity to investigate the secrets of this dinosaur species.

These two unconventional practical examples confirm the advantages of the voxeljet 3D printing technology for the reconstruction and manufacture of physical models on the basis of computer animation. “By combining the modern technologies of scanning and 3D printing, it is now possible to duplicate objects more easily, rapidly and economically than ever. At the last stage, the powder-based parts can be easily colored and finished. In fact, the produced plastic models can also be used for investment casting, i.e. for the manufacture of individual cast parts. These possibilities open up new application areas for our 3D printing method every day,”

Technical data

Plastic Part
Total size 3,600 mm
Individual pieces8
Material PMMA
Layer thickness  0.15 mm
Lead time5 days




Industrial application fields

  •          Art casting
  •          Customized design productions
  •          Film & stage props and merchandising
  •          Museum exhibits