Paper No. 30-13
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
CT-scanning has become a new and exciting, non-destructive method of viewing, documenting and showing the external and internal structures of museum specimens and digitally representing them in 3D. NSF Grant# 123394 to the American Museum of Natural History funded efforts to digitize the collection database and document type material by light microscopy, but also to create 3D representations of type specimens. CT scans were generated in the American Museum of Natural History's Microscopy and Imaging Facility, using the GE Phoenix v|tome|x s240 with the Nano-focus 180kv x-ray tube. CT scans were post-processed using Phoenix Datos|x CT software, and regions were created using VGStudioMax 2.2. The 3D mesh was then extracted in an STL format, and further edited in Meshlab to clear additional debris to improve quality and decrease print time. The X-ray computed tomography scanning (CT scan) thus makes 3D digital representations of specimens, which can be printed to create valuable teaching tools for research, education and industrial purposes.
We have constructed a collection of 3D images of Foraminifera and Ostracoda type specimens, which can be printed in large format, cross sectioned virtually in 3D-pdf format, and in 3D prints. These 3D images will assist in identification of morphological species by researchers who select specimens for trace element/ stable isotope analysis, and provide students with valuable tools to learn taxonomy through understanding the construction of the microfossil skeletons. High-quality images of type material in important collections can be made available online to the global scientific community, so that taxonomic problems can be addressed through cooperation, using a wiki web application and 3D prints.
3D printing, especially of type specimens in museum collections, thus provides specimens for species identification in research and teaching labs, museum exhibits, classrooms and industry and is expected to transform science as well as science education and communication.