Giant 3-D printed bugs shed light on insect anatomy

Jun 19, 2013
CSIRO researcher, Chad Henry with the 3D titanium bugs.

Minute insects, from the Australian National Insect Collection, have been super sized by up to forty times using a novel 3D scanning system and printed using a state of the art 3D printer.

The 3D show new potential for studying the anatomy of miniscule creatures by enabling them to physically handle the insects and study their features up close.

Scientists believe this technology will soon enable them to determine characteristics, such as gender, and examine surface characteristics which are otherwise difficult due to the minute size.

Originally created for a national art exhibition, CSIRO Science Art Fellow Eleanor Gates-Stuart, said the bugs they are working with are micro sized, some only clearly visible under the microscope.

"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," she added.

To create the bug, scientists scan the insect to generate a computer aided design (CAD) file. The CAD file is then entered into the 3D printing machine.

CSIRO's Additive Manufacturing Operations Manager, Chad Henry, said that compared to conventional methods of manufacturing, 3D printing is highly efficient and environmentally friendly.

"The process is perfect for building fine scale features to capture all of the intricate details of the bugs," he said.

Giant 3-D printed bugs shed light on insect anatomy
Up close and personal with the CSIRO printed titanium bugs.

The 3D printing machine adds layer upon layer of titanium to build up each bug. Up to 12 bugs can be produced at a time and after 10 hours in the machine; the bugs emerge from the titanium powder.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
A weevil scanned using novel 3D scanning process. (Credit: Chuong Nguyen, CSIRO researcher)

"Giant bug production is not necessarily where we saw ourselves going, however, this project is exciting because it brings together two key areas of science - manufacturing and entomology," Chad Henry added.

CSIRO's additive manufacturing facility, Lab 22, is currently being used to manufacture a range of prototype products including , automotive, aerospace and defence parts for Australian industry.

Explore further: 3D printing 'could herald new industrial revolution'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists use 3-D printing to track big fish

Feb 07, 2013

CSIRO scientists are using 3D printing to build a new generation of hi-tech fish tags made of titanium. The aim is to use the tags to track big fish such as marlin, tuna, swordfish, trevally and sharks for ...

Could eating insects solve world food shortage?

Mar 01, 2012

Creating tasty food items from ground-up insects could be a solution to global food shortages, according to Insects Au Gratin, an exhibition featuring 3D food printing technology.

3D printing tiny batteries

Jun 18, 2013

(Phys.org) —3D printing can now be used to print lithium-ion microbatteries the size of a grain of sand. The printed microbatteries could supply electricity to tiny devices in fields from medicine to communications, ...

Recommended for you

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

8 hours ago

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

IBM posts lower 1Q earnings amid hardware slump

IBM's first-quarter earnings fell and revenue came in below Wall Street's expectations amid an ongoing decline in its hardware business, one that was exasperated by weaker demand in China and emerging markets.

Microsoft CEO is driving data-culture mindset

(Phys.org) —Microsoft's future strategy: is all about leveraging data, from different sources, coming together using one cohesive Microsoft architecture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, both in ...

Researchers see hospitalization records as additional tool

Comparing hospitalization records with data reported to local boards of health presents a more accurate way to monitor how well communities track disease outbreaks, according to a paper published April 16 in the journal PLOS ON ...

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

Scientists say that the Ebola (ee-BOH'-lah) virus that has killed scores of people this year in Guinea (GIH'-nee) is a new strain. That means it did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations.