Bull 3D Scan Manipulation - 3D Scanning to 3D Printing

This project was aimed to utilise new technologies to take a small 3D model of a bull and use it as a starting point for creating a custom designed large scale 3D printed bull head. In order to do this both 3D scanning and large scale 3D printing would be utilised, as well as 3D mesh manipulation software to make edits to the 3D scan data based on the clients requirements.

Extended Description:

The project started with the initial 3D scanning of a small bronze bull model, approximately 260mm long, 75mm wide and 150mm high. The Artec Space Spider 3D scanner was used as it has a point cloud accuracy of 0.05mm, and would achieve the best scan definition and detail from the bronze model. Once the bull model had been scanned, the client required several changes in order to personalise the bull into a breed and form that was more desirable. In order to do this, a mesh was created from the 3D scan data using Artec Studio software. This mesh was then exported as a .STL file and imported into GeoMagic Wrap; a 3D mesh manipulation program. Within GeoMagic Wrap the mesh was changed in the following ways:

  • The brand marks were removed from the side of the bull.

  • The bull's hooves were changed by adding material in order to make them more realistic.

  • The bull's 'private parts' were changed to make them more realistic. 

  • The horns were removed from the bull and rounded off as if the same procedure was completed in real life, hence making it more realistic.

  • The bridle strap around the bulls head was removed and small facial changes were added.

  • The ears of the bull were lengthened and lowered to make the breed of the bull seem more like a Brahman bull.

  • The eyes of the bull were edited to make the more detailed and realistic.

  • The back right hip aka 'rump' of the bull had more material added to it to make the bull more realistic.

All of the changes to the bull were requested by the client, who is a very experienced cattle farmer and has 'show quality' and award winning bulls of his own, which made the whole project a great learning experience, not only in regards to manipulating .STL files and scan data but also in regards to the lessons I learnt about bulls and cattle in general.

Once the required edits were made to the bull, it was time to take the .STL file to the 3D printer. Before printing though, the bull's head was cut off as this stage of printing the client was aiming to create a wall mounting piece. With the required dimensions of the client provided through a wooden prototype, the head was then scaled to match the prototype. One extra step was needed to create wall mounting screw holes in the back of the head. GeoMagic Wrap has the unique capability of 'auto-surfacing' a 3D mesh, which meant that a surface model was created and could be exported as a .STEP file and imported into Solidworks. Within Solidworks, a solid model was now available, and 3 appropriately sized holes were created for wall mounting.


Multiple cross sections of the model were then taken and through the creation of several .DXF files a cardboard prototype was created in order to check the scaling of the head. Once this cardboard prototype was confirmed to be the correct size, the .STL file was imported into Simplify 3D for slicing in preparation for 3D printing. The print time was around 48 hours, and the 3DP Workbench Classic large format 3D printer was used for printing. The material used was white PolyMax PLA at a layer height of 0.2mm using a 0.4mm diameter nozzle. 

The size of the resulting 3D printed bull head was 261mm in height, 163mm from ear tip to ear tip and 225mm from the wall to the nose tip. The client was extremely pleased with the bull head and is planning on getting some more large scale prints completed of the entire bull body for mounting on property signs.