Printing an Ammonite

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has just released a veritable treasure trove of 3D printable files for fossil enthusiasts. Once it's fully loaded their new online database will contain several thousand scans of fossils collected from museums across England. In order to get their hands on the best fossils Britain had to offer, the BGS worked in conjunction with The National Museum of Wales, The Sedgwick Museum Cambridge, The University Museum of Natural History Oxford, and the Curators' Group, which represents a number of regional museums. "This work will provide an outstanding resource to geologists at all levels – researchers, university students, school students and amateurs for years to come,'' Professor John Ludden, executive director of the BGS said.

The collection represents the first time a museum has ever released a large number of free 3D printable scans for public use. Museums like the Smithsonian and Skulpturhalle have scanning programs in place but nothing on this scale has ever been done before. The BGS wanted to make the files public so that fossil fans and educators could replicate important pieces of history that were previously collecting dust in storage.

3D printed fossils

The new online fossil database was funded by Jisc, a British digital content company that offers tools for educators. "As part of Jisc's vision to provide simple and fast access to digital content, we're delighted to fund this project, bringing these artifacts to life and into the hands of those fascinated by fossils," said Jisc's program manager, Peter Findlay. "3D-printed models offer the opportunity to engage with a physical facsimile which can really transform someone's understanding and at the same time reduce access costs and the need to handle originals.

For more information on the project you can watch the video below:

3D printing has also recently been used to recreate artifacts ranging from the remains of King Tut and King Richard to an ancient Nuzi Lion statue.