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3D Printing is obviously changing the way we design and prototype new products.  However, it is also making a splash in academia  in numerous fields from the arts to the sciences.
Mary Margaret Murphy, A University of Montana graduate student in anthropology, has been researching the incorporation of digital 3D scanning as a tool for archiving and sharing rare, precious, fragile, and otherwise important artifacts.   Whether the goal is to return human remains to their descendants or just to give other scientists access to data without the need for having a physical object in front of them, 3D scanning technology opens up many new possibilities and efficiencies that never existed before.    Mary Margaret also saw an opportunity for 3d-scanned objects to be 3D-printed as visual aids in research presentations.  Poster presentations are the academic standard for sharing research project findings.  Since Mary Margaret’s research has involved 3D scanning of objects, 2D pictures on a poster just don’t do the process justice.  She submitted a research plan for incorporating 3D prints into poster presentations to The University of Montana’s Graduate Student and Faculty Research Conference and her poster was accepted.

She developed a simple 3D-printed reusable pin system for holding 3D-printed models on her poster.  She provided me with some prepared digital models of a grizzly bear skull she had scanned for the project and I incorporated the pin receiver into each model.  Then I hit “print.”