Hermit crabs running short on shells? 3D printing to the rescue!

Mike Wehner, Tecca
Technology News Blog

Hermit crabs are one of the most relaxing pets you can own. They don't bark, hiss, or need to be taken outside, and they generally live their lives in the slow lane. Unfortunately, these cool crustaceans are feeling the pinch of their very own housing crisis — a lack of suitable shells to call home. Luckily, 3D printer manufacturer MakerBot is here to lend a helping hand.

Unlike many crustaceans, hermit crabs aren't born with a hard exterior covering their entire body. While their front legs and upper torso are covered with a rigid exoskeleton, a hermit crab's abdomen is soft and vulnerable. They solve this problem by appropriating the discarded shells of various snails and other deep sea critters, but a recent drought in shells has left domestic hermit crabs in a bind. By creating artificial shells using 3D printers, MakerBot hopes to make DIY shells a viable option for crab owners.

Project Shellter, as MakerBot calls it, is still in its earliest phase, and key details like what material to use are still being hashed out. The company has set up "crabitats" at their manufacturing locations to test out what shell designs work best, and if you're feeling ambitious, you can even design your own. If you have access to a MakerBot 3D printer, you can craft your own crab home and upload the details to design site Thingiverse. Who knows, your creation just might please the discriminating hermits.


This article originally appeared on Tecca

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