Collin Moret and Michael Anderson, at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History are working to fill in missing species in the Connecticut Bird Hall. The traditional source for bird models in natural history museums is real birds. As many of these species are endangered, Michael decided to pursue a different pathway. In the past creating a bird model was a painstaking process that included many steps of mold making and casting over multiple weeks to produce just one finished model.
With the use of a Sprout by HP workstation the model makers can quickly create a 3D model of a reference bird. The virtual bird can then be scaled or otherwise manipulated before printing it out on a 3D printer. The rough model is dipped in wax to smooth the surface and allow fine detail additions. Fine anatomical details such as the beak, eyes and legs are added. It is then painted according to reference models and drawings. The finished model is reviewed and certified by an ornithologist before it is approved for inclusion in the museum exhibits.
The overall process has gone from a timeframe of weeks to days for the productions of a single bird model. With the quick turnaround the model makers are making great progress on completing the displays in the Connecticut Bird Hall and are starting to turn their attention to other needed areas. It looks like a mink might be their next experiment.