Geo Week News

April 1, 2016

3D Scanning is for the Birds

Scanning the Eastern Imperial Eagle with an Artec scanner.

We’re accustomed to seeing 3D scanning used for historical preservation, sure, but ornithological preservation?

A few days ago Artec 3D (manufacturers of the handheld Eva, Spider, and Space Spider 3D scanners) announced a partnership with, a web service for 3D printing models. They’re “teaming up for the 3D digitization of more than 55 endangered and threatened bird species.” Once the scanning project is complete, will make the files available for download or on-demand 3D-printing.

The reasons you would scan a bird are much the same as the reasons you would scan a building: capturing an endangered object (or animal) at a specific point in time, before it disappears (or in this case, goes extinct).

3D Scan: Falco peregrinus (Peregrine falcon)

As with buildings, these scans might actually help preserve the originals, too. The two companies explain that the project “strives to promote preservation and reduce poaching of of these rare birds by creating a humane alternative to collecting real stuffed birds.”

They hope giving customers a viable option for purchasing models will stop them from “promoting the practice of hunting these sometimes rare and endangered birds.” Considering that the last time taxidermy became so popular (in the Victorian era), several species of birds were hunted to extinction, this seems like a good step.

I have to wonder if people might still want to hunt these birds *because* they are endangered. There’s no accounting for motivation.

In a weird twist, the 3D models have been created by using Artec’s 3D scanners to capture “stuffed educational models from several scientific facilities.” The birds on the website look pretty impressive (I may even buy one for myself). See below for a few samples.

Accipiter gentiles (northern goshawk)

Falco tinnunculus (common kestrel)

Aquila heliaca (Eastern imperial eagle)


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