Design of the Week: Sea Urchin Hat

By on December 11th, 2023 in Design, news

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3D printed hat worn by a sea urchin [Source: Reef2Reef]

This week’s selection is the Sea Urchin Hat concept.

I’m not exactly certain who first developed this approach, but it seems to be Reef2Reef contributor riosouza, who posted about the concept way back in February 2020.

Yes, this is pretty old now, but we haven’t discussed this on Fabbaloo, so there’s no time like the present. I also expect that most people in the 3D print community have not heard of this yet.

What’s it all about? It turns out that specific species of sea urchin have the habit of picking up nearby items and placing them on top of their bodies. Apparently this has something to do with shielding themselves from the sun, and it’s entirely natural.

risouza posted this:

“After seeing my sea urchins carrying snail shells, rocks on their back I decide to read more about it.

Studies reviewed the possible reasons would be to protect themselves against predators and/or full-spectrum light source, mainly against UV rays.

Then I decided to do a quick design for a 3D printed hat, and for my surprise they absolutely love it.

Since I replace the rocks and shells from their back with the hats, they never let it go, and I was astonished to see them moving the hats towards the light source. Which leads me to the conclusion they certainly use it against excessive UV rays.”

This is quite amazing, and is a 3D printed application that anyone with a salt water aquarium might attempt. In fact, I would not be surprised if some actually bought new sea urchins just to do this.

Can you print any kind of hat for the sea urchins? Apparently not, as risouza explains:

“This weekend I was allowed by the boss (wife) to spend few hours working on the design of a hat or two.

My sea urchin grabbed it, but since the bottom of the hats are not a full arched shape, it does not fit perfectly.

The cowboy hat has quite a large area in comparison to the small contact area for the sea urchin to hold on to it. With the water flow and rocks, the hat will come loose after awhile. If you fit the entire sea urchin in the hat and its brim will be way too big to be carried around.”

If you’re 3D printing hats for your sea urchins, keep this in mind, as these creatures have particular style requirements for their sun hats, just like us humans do.

Via Reef2Reef

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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