We have seen 3D printing make incredible strides lately. Producing everything from glass to food, this technology’s possibilities are looking to become endless. This is great news for the environment, as 3D printing may be able to help solve the hermit crab shell crisis. With a dangerous shell shortage currently affecting the oceans, hermit crabs are fighting for homes and occupying pieces of trash instead of shells. Makerbot Industries, creator of affordable 3D open source printers, seeks to build an eco-friendly replacement home with their master plan called Project Shellter.
Hermit crabs are born without shells and the soft little guys have to find one in the ocean to make their home in order to survive. As they grow larger, they need a new shell that will fit. In response to the shell shortage, Makerbot has been calling out to the 3D printing world for various replacement shell design submissions. These designs are then printed in plastic using local manufacturing and hardware.
The test shells are being used by domestic hermit crabs in habitats in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles. The final version of the 3D printed shells are aimed more for pet hermit crabs rather than wild ones, greatly lessening the harvesting of real shells in the ocean. Crab owners will be able to print and use the replacement shells in a number of sizes while their crab grows, helping to save the environment one pet crab at a time.
lead image from goingslo Flickr photostream