The 81st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2012)

Virtual anthropology


Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz

Thursday All day, Plaza Level Add to calendar

Implementing 3D laser scanning and virtualization of skeletal materials, Virtual Anthropology was applied to osteological education. Complete and fragmentary skeletal elements were imaged and the data imported into digital modeling software, creating accurate models for anthropological education and research. Virtual tools and interactive 3D models allow students access to learning materials outside of the classroom and laboratory setting, at little to no cost to the student. Through 3D printing, utilizing the Z Corporation inkjet printed binder into a powder matrix process, highly accurate, full-color, replicas can be created. These models can augment or replace actual osteological specimens, and can even be provided for students to keep through laboratory component fees.

The accuracy of the scans and 3D prints was checked through measurements and physical inspection. After scanning, the digital 3D models were measured in Geomagic to compare height, width, and length measurements of the original bone. Height, width, and length measurements between the original specimen and digital scans varied between ~1.5mm to ~0.40mm. Measurements of the 3D printed models showed that they differed from the originals by ~1.1 to ~0.3mm. The full color printing process provided increased depth and accuracy to the models. Print time and print cost compared to quality is equal to or better than traditional reproduction methods. The price per performance and accuracy of the Virtual Anthropology process allowed the project to be highly successful.

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