Scanning the Sea: How I create 3D printable ocean objects using a smartphone and free software

From simple sand dollars to life-sized hammer head shark skulls, 3D printable ocean items present an incredible chance for ocean outreach. Many industrial biological models are delicate, not cheap, and often overkill for teachers’ requirements, where simple, sturdy, and simply replaceable anatomical models suffice. On the past year, I’ve been honing my 3-D printing skills, learning the best way to design 3D- items that are printable, and mastering 3D scanning using software that is free and the now-omnipresent smartphone. My layouts, along with the open-source objects employed for Oceanography for Everybody, can be found on my YouMagine account (though Patreon supporters get early access to most prints).

Earlier this year, I opened up a whole new planet of outreach possibilities and wrote about how a capability to basically photocopy a three dimensional object in an issue of hours animated my Ocean Optimism. Ever since then, I’ve been working behind the scenes on some larger projects that depend on 3D printing, among which, Oceanography for Everybody found last month. With several successful 3D scans under my belt, I think it’s time to talk about the procedure and ask the remaining part of the ocean-loving planet join me in my endeavors to scan the sea.