Oct 27, 2011
3DPrintingNews
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3D printing community aim to rehouse homeless hermit crabs.

3D Printed shells for hermit crabs
3D printing could rehouse homeless hermit crabs.

While the heading of this post may appear strange the creative minds at MakerBot Industries, manufacturers of do it yourself 3D printers, have devised a plan to tackle the growing threat to hermit crabs, the man-made housing shortage that threatens the entire species. The project known as Project Shelltor intends to utilize the Makerbot community’s design skills to design and produce shells for hermit crabs.

Hermit crabs are born shell-less, therefore they must scavenge for suitable housing – usually a shell which will protect them from predators and provide suitable space for growth. Each spring a growth spurt causes them to abandon their home and once again begin the search for suitable housing, but a severe shortage of shells has forced hermit crabs to fight over inadequate housing such as bottle caps, aluminium cans and other bits of trash.

Lead by Miles Lightwood, the “Shelltor project” challenges designers to create “crabitats”, shells created using a right handed helix that will accommodate the natural curve of hermit crabs bodies. While commentators have questioned the safety of this project, Makerbot insist that no shells have be placed into the wild (shells are intended for domestic use only, to avoid environmental implications from putting plastic into the sea) and a suitable non toxic material will need to be sourced to prevent the hermit crabs ingesting potentially dangerous materials (hermit crabs do ingest bits of the shell now and then).

While it remains to be seen if hermit crabs will even consider a 3D-printed shell as a suitable home, the Shelltor project is indicative of novel and helpful uses for 3D printing

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