We’ve shared several of the unique designs that can be found on the 3D printable file sharing platform Cults 3D, a French marketplace founded in 2013 and dedicated to sharing 3D designs, including a replica of the house on The Simpsons, a game to keep your dog occupied and learning during the day, and some pretty cool skulls. Now, one of the site’s designers,Amao, is using 3D printing to raise awareness for a unique and critically endangered animal, the pangolin, or scaly anteater. Pangolins are growing ever closer to extinction, and Amao is sharing this model of an easy 3D printable pangolin, Save Pangolins, for free, to encourage other people to make their own 3D printed pangolins, and “showcase them everywhere.”
We have written about these interesting, scaly creatures before, when a 3D printed dress inspired by the pangolin hit the New York Fashion Week runway in threeASFOUR’s Biomimicry collection. According to SavePangolins.org, there are a total of eight species of these nocturnal, scale-covered mammals, across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Their scales are made from keratin, which is the same protein that makes up human fingernails. They have sticky, muscular tongues that are longer than a pangolin’s entire body and head, and help the animals enjoy their favorite meals: termites and ants. Some species burrow far underground, while others prefer to climb trees. When threatened, they roll up into a tight ball and let their tough scales protect them and their young.
But this tactic does not always save them from their biggest predator: humans. Pangolins are unfortunately in high demand: they are poached for food, and for use as fashion accessories and medicine. According to designer Amao, human “superstition and greed” are the causes of the pangolin’s decline; he says the animal’s meat is favored for its medicinal purposes, and that some people believe its scales can help cure impotence. He also says that some people only eat pangolins to show off how wealthy they are.
In addition to the threat pangolins face from poachers, the deterioration of the animal’s habitat is also helping to shrink their population. Unfortunately, there is not much available data on illegal trade routes, which makes it difficult to combat.
Amao says international pangolin trade was banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2000, and although they are a protected species throughout most of Asia, the scaly anteaters are still very threatened. He would like to see law enforcement more strictly punish poachers and people who eat the pangolin. But he’s helping in his own way to raise awareness, with his 3D printable pangolin.
Amao said, “Pangolin is a really skillful and difficult work that I have spent a lot of time on it. It has been passed at least six editions before presenting to all of you. What I was trying to challenge is an artwork with both perfect appearance and function.”
He used SketchUp to design the pangolin model, and Shinkong Synthetic Fibers supported his creation, as well as providing him with dedicated ABS colored materials. Amao said it was hard to share his pangolin with others at first, because when he finally completed it and the full 3D printed animal was sitting in front of him, he fell in love with it. But he decided that he wanted to let others experience it for themselves, and hopefully raise awareness of this scaly creature.
Here are the printer settings Amao used to create his 3D printed pangolin:
Z resolution 0.2mm
0.15mm layer resolution
He also shared the 3D model file to 3D design sharing website Fast Lab, and welcomes all 3D designers to upload and share their work there as well. To see more images of Amao’s 3D printed pangolin, check out the video that Cults 3D uploaded to its Facebook page.