The CSIRO has created what it claims is a world first: 3D printed titanium bugs.
Using scans of various creatures from the Australian National Insect Collection to create CAD files, they created models up to 40 times the original size of bugs included weevils and Christmas beetles.
Besides the novelty value, the CSIRO has pointed out the usefulness to entomologists who are looking to physically handle and examine large-scale versions of the bugs, fabricated out of high-resolution titanium. The process is hoped to be useful in determining characteristics such as gender.
“The process is perfect for building fine scale features to capture all of the intricate details of the bugs,” said Chad Henry, Additive Manufacturing Operations Manager at the CSIRO, in a statement.
The CSIRO has what is the Southern Hemisphere’s first Arcam manufacturing facility, which can create items out of titanium powder melted and fused in a vacuum environment using an electronic beam.
“We combined science and art to engage the public and through the process we’ve discovered that 3D printing could be the way of the future for studying these creatures,” said CSIRO Science Art Fellow Eleanor Gates-Stuart.
The process applied to titanium bugs takes 10 hours and can create up to 12 items at a time. It is also currently used to create prototypes in fields such as biomedical and aerospace.