The Little Engine that could. How capable is your 3D Printer?

The Little Engine that could? No, not really, but more like the little 3D Printer that "could." As I was surfing the web late one night like I always do, I came across this post that floored me. It was of a man standing next to a life-size 3D Printed T. Rex. (maybe you've already seen it)?

(Simon holding the upper part of SUE's skull)

I think the sheer size of this thing was jaw-dropping for me, and if you haven't already seen it, soon you'll see why. I suddenly had many questions floating around in my mind, like How was this printed? How long did it take? How was it created? Which filament did he use? How many hours were put into this and so forth? You get what I mean.

(SUE seen here with empty rolls of eSUN filament)

I probably stared at and studied the picture for 10 minutes, and I knew I had to know more, so I did what anyone would do; I decided to message the Enthusiast responsible for this work of art and ask questions.

Before I go any further, let me give you some background. The T-Rex in the photo (SUE) is technically known as Specimen FMNH PR 2081, a.k.a SUE, and is named after "Sue Hendrickson," the archeologist who discovered the dinosaur in 1990 during a commercial excavation trip north of Faith, South Dakota.

(SUE the T. Rex seen here fully assembled at the Field Museum, Chicago IL)

Dating back to the Cretaceous period—about 67 million years ago—this massive predator lived to the upper end of the life expectancy of a T. rex, about 28 years. (How do we know? Dinosaur bones have growth rings, just like trees. After examining these rings, scientists also determined that SUE had an adolescent growth spurt—gaining as much as 4.5 pounds per day—and reached full size at age 19.)

(Sue Hendrickson stands near her Discovery)

Who said you wouldn't learn something today, haha? Mr. Simon Clark is the Enthusiast who decided to take on this incredible project of replicating and bringing SUE to life.

Simon is from New Zealand and is passionate about Dinosaur Specimens. He has become quite good at printing them too. Just look at some of the pictures below, and I think you'll agree.


(Simon seen here post-processing a 3D Printed Velociraptor) 

The more I talked to Simon and asked him questions, the more I realized that this Story needs to be shared because it's mind-blowing and very inspirational, and the hope is that maybe you, too, will be inspired. 

(Simon stand next to SUE)

(Simon's Collection of his 3D Printed Specimens)

I know when Simon and I spoke, he echoed the same sentiments, and that was that he hopes his work will inspire others. When I asked Simon for permission to use his pictures and Story, I knew I was already looking for my next blog story. I just had no clue seeing his picture would eventually become my next blog.

Creating Sue was no easy task, as you can imagine. Simon used two 3D Printers from Creality, a CR 10 series printer and an Ender 3 series printer. The filament comes from eSUN, and so far, 17 spools of PLA (Plus) have gone into printing the head alone, and I should mention it's not finished yet (he's still going). 

Here are some additional details Simon shared with me about his work. The scaley surface and bone texture were replicated using his 3D Printer. The specimen was sculpted using VR or virtual reality and then hand-carved with controllers using various apps like SculptrVR and Shapelabs VR, and Simon is likely currently 3D printing one of the most oversized prints in the World entirely designed in VR.

Simon goes on to mention that everything he prints is entirely 100% an original piece; he doesn't sell his .stl files, and since they belong to him, no one else is printing his work.

As for post-processing this monster print, Simon prints each piece individually and then uses a 3D Print Pen to fuse the sheets. I am sure I left out some details like Paint and Finish, but at least you have an idea of his work.

Early in life, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see SUE, where she is permanently housed at the Field Museum in Chicago, IL. So for me, seeing a 3D Printed life size version of SUE was truly something that got me even more excited about 3D Printing. 

(The Real SUE)

How did she end up at the Field Museum in Chicago IL? 

Shortly after Hendrickson's landmark discovery, three parties embarked on a five-year custody battle that ended in a public auction in 1997. The highest bidder? The Field Museum (with support from McDonald's Corporation, the Walt Disney World Resort, and private donors), at a staggering $8.4 million—the most money ever paid for a fossil at auction.

SUE finally made a dramatic debut in Stanley Field Hall on May 17, 2000, but much work was needed to get the skeleton there. After SUE was purchased at auction, 12 museum preparators spent more than 30,000 hours preparing the skeleton (plus another 20,000 hours building the exhibit). Pretty astonishing if you ask me.

(Picture of Tyrannosaurs Rex) 

Why is Simon's Story important? Because I think it sends the message that you don't need an expensive printer with a large build volume to take on such a project. The saying goes, "Anything is possible to he who dares." I believe this is true, and in this case, Simon hopes that by sharing and reading this, you too will find inspiration in your next project and whatever you do, don't let limitations hold you back. 

The Mind-Blowing Part of this Story for me was this. A fossil was found on Earth 67 million years ago, dug up, transported, and later assembled using more than 50,000 person-hours. Fast forward, Simon Sculpted SUE using Virtual Reality, printed SUE using two small, inexpensive FDM Printers, and fused it with a 3D Printing Pen. 

Simon also explained this. "Amazingly, just after I started this print, we got a real T-Rex here in New Zealand for a limited display until September, and it's the world debut of "Peter," which was very cool to see and the first real T-Rex ever exhibited in the southern hemisphere. 

Simon's Story inspired me, and I hope you are too. I am also very thankful he allowed me to share his story. As the saying goes, " Makers gonna make" I hope you get out there and make something awesome today!

I have included the links below for more information about the T. Rex project. Thanks for stopping by! 

To Learn more about SUE or to find updates or even to see what SUE has taught us please visit the links below. 

To see more fun dinosaur projects Simon is working on make sure to stop by his instagram page.

Source for SUE:

Source for this article shared by: Simon Clark insta: topgunsi

Simon Clark YouTube:


SUE the T. rex is part of the Griffin Dinosaur Experience, made possible by the generous support of the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund. 

(Miscellaneous Pictures)

by: Jessica Hayes

1 comment

  • I’m going to make a s guess he’s not married right?

    Don Youngner

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