CASE STUDY

Copper-plated eagle skull highlights the potential of digital manufacturing to make the impossible possible.

Key benefits

  • Rapid part iteration and refinement

  • Market validation prior to large investment

  • Local manufacturing

  • fast turnaround of prototypes and production parts

  • Environmentally friendly and sustainable production

  • On-demand manufacturing 

Industry

Art, sculptures

Technology

HP Multi Jet Fusion 5200 3D printer, Creaform 3D scanner

Materials

Challenge

The team at Tempus 3D was approached by a First Nations group from British Columbia to assist in creating a copper replica of an Eagle Skull. The skull was extremely delicate and fragile and they wanted to produce a piece that was more durable and had an aged copper look to it.​

Solution

The first challenge was to create an accurate replica of the skull that preserved the fine level of detail and delicate structures.  When the project was first brought to Tempus we considered a number of options to recreate it, including having a CT scan of the object by a local veterinary clinic. Ultimately, we decided to try 3D scanning the skull with the help of the Selkirk Technology Access Centre (STAC) in Trail BC. The team at STAC has years of scanning experience, so they were able to reproduce the piece exactly with advanced digital scanning technology and also adjust the digital file to repair some damage the skull had suffered over the years.

eagle skull original.jpg

 

With a solid model now in hand we test printed several of the eagle skulls on our HP MJF 5200 3D printer with a variety of print orientations and settings. We were able to get an amazingly high-quality print and could validate the feasibility of accurately reproducing the original skull. The material of choice was nylon PA12, which has the density and durability to reproduce the fine structures while maintaining structural integrity.

eagle skull 3D printed with Nylon 12.png
copper plated eagle skull.jpg
Result

The team at Tempus 3D, in collaboration and consultation with our customer, our partners at STAC, and our partners at Repliform, was able to deliver a product that is durable, repeatable, and most importantly beautiful for our customer. This was truly an amazing project to work on.

With Tempus’ location in the interior of British Columbia it is uniquely capable of serving the British Columbia and Alberta markets with cost-effective overnight shipping and the ability to turn around rush orders in as little as 36 hours. We at Tempus feel this is just the beginning of what manufacturing will look like in the future; it will be more responsive, more custom, and more local allowing innovators across sectors to bring products to market quicker and in a more environmentally friendly way. At Tempus, we are MAKING IT POSSIBLE.

The next challenge was to produce the requested copper finish. We originally looked at 3D printing the part with a metal 3D printer, but 3D printed metal was prohibitively expensive and we had serious concerns about how the extremely thin walls of the replica skull would turn out in the metal printing options that were available.

Ultimately, the team at Tempus reached out to our friends at Repliform, which specializes in electroplating 3D printed plastics and other non-conductive materials. We had worked on a project with Repliform in the past and they felt strongly that they could help us in turning the skull into the piece that we had envisioned.

Repliform was able to take the 3D printed pieces and turn out a beautiful aged-copper finish that preserved the fine details and highlighted the beauty of the original form.

The beautiful end result highlights what can be accomplished with collaboration between results-oriented professionals and leveraging the latest digital manufacturing technology.