004 | Custom 3D printed metal mammoth tooth fossil stand – Shapeways Steel

A long-cherished idea finally realized.

I always thought it was a shame that the Mammoth tooth just stood there on a shelf behind glass, next to some fossilized shark and ray teeth, books and recently received greeting cards.
But some time ago I came across some very nice handmade bronze fossil (Megalodon tooth) stands by Fossils Online, both classic and timeless.
And ever since I put my shark tooth in these stands, I just had to create a matching stand for the Mammoth tooth.

Center: Mammoth tooth on custom 3D printed stand. In the background: Fossilized “Megalodon” shark tooth (L) and “Carcharocles Auriculatus” shark tooth (R).

A little bit of backstory

The tooth represents a wonderful childhood memory.
Being from ’83, I of course had my dinosaur period. Not to forget Jurassic Park being released in ’93, one of the most epic movies ever! (apart from the overacting).

We always played outside and even on our family vacations we usually spent at least one day hiking and scouting for fossils and minerals.
This one day my dad takes us to a local sand excavation, because apparently fossils could be found there. I still remember the feeling that I had “I was going to find something special that day”. Imagine this hyped little boy, roaming over these piles of rocks and sand.

And suddenly I did… I found an actual Mammoth tooth.
Relatively small, yes, but it was my tooth.

Back to the present

With my growing interest in 3D printing and my curiosity about all the material options currently available, with for instance Shapeways, I had the perfect project in front of me.

What are Mammoths known for? Indeed, their extremely long, curved tusks.
So I immediately had this image in my mind of these two tusks holding up the tooth and that’s where I started. I took some measurements and created a rough reference model of the tooth, so I knew it would actually (hopefully) fit.

I initially had my mind set on the bronze material, but after some trial and error and on second thoughts, it seemed a little too expensive (and maybe too weak) to give it a first try.
I decided to go for the steel option with bronze finish.

It took me a few attempts before my model was completely accepted and in production.
I ended up separating the tusks from the central part, to make sure it wouldn’t break in production.

Final step: putting the pieces together

  • Wooden mahogany base
  • Brass thread + nut
  • 3D printed stand base (central pillar and arms)
  • 3D printed tusks (x2)
Assembly tools for the 3D printed mammoth tooth stand

Summarizing experience with steel 3D prints from Shapeways

  • Overall experience: very positive
  • 3D print quality
    • The tusks are clearly polished and the base not so much, although the same “polished” finish was selected for all elements, I guess this has something to do with the hammered effect I applied to the base, conflicting with the print resolution and build-up of the print layers.
    • If you ever wondered how strong the Shapeways steel material is? Damn f*cking rock solid and wear-resistant! It took me forever and considerable force to file a super thin layer off the inner rings, to make the tusks fit.
    • Print resolution is decent. If you look closely, you’ll see the build-up of print layers, although it doesn’t bother me for this model. However, I think the print quality for the real bronze would have been slightly better.
    • The size of the model is pretty much spot on.
  • Service
    • Quick, friendly and honest advice from Shapeways.
    • Very solid online ordering experience
    • Delivered well before expected delivery time

For a more visual presentation of the project, visit the project on Behance.

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