UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In 1942, Heinz Warneke sculpted the famous Nittany Lion Shrine from a 13-ton block of Indiana limestone. Seventy-six years later, the Penn State 3D Printing Club printed a multi-colored head of the Nittany Lion using 20 different filament materials.
“We’re all Penn State students. We love Penn State and the Nittany Lion is such a big Penn State symbol. As a club, we thought it would be cool [to print the lion]. Last semester, when the ear broke off, we scanned the Nittany Lion and printed out an ear for it. Then, we thought it would be cool if we did the whole lion,” said Nate Ehrhardt, president of the 3D Printing Club.
In early February 2018, the right ear of the Nittany Lion Shrine broke for the fourth time since its construction. While the Penn State Office of the Physical Plant worked to reconstruct the ear, members of the 3D Printing Club heard about the damage on the news and decided they would print a temporary replacement. Made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, an opaque thermoplastic polymer commonly used to make keyboard keys and LEGO toys, the bright blue prosthetic ear serves as one of the club’s prominent achievements.
Toward the end of the summer, however, Ehrhardt, an aerospace engineering junior minoring in the technology based entrepreneurship cluster of ENTI, decided to use the club’s scans from when they were constructing the ear replacement in order to print the statue’s head.
“We’re always making small prints and we wanted to make something bigger and just take it to the next level,” said Daniel Tanney, a club member majoring in materials science and engineering. “Nate really spearheaded the project. He figured out what pieces we wanted to be what colors and what materials.”
After running the scan through Autodesk Meshmixer, a software used to work with triangle meshes in computer graphics, to convert it into a solid and fix any holes, Ehrhardt then used the software Fusion 360 to cut the scan into 64 smaller pieces. Each of these pieces was then run through Cura, a 3D printing application for slicing. Slicing is a process in 3D printing by which the model of the product is divided into hundreds of layers. Tanney, along with other members of the club, helped Ehrhardt print the final pieces.