Here be 3D printed dragons

By Vanessa Hill , Carol Saab

10 January 2014

Earlier this week we posted about a letter we received from Sophie, a 7-year-old girl. All she wanted was a dragon.

letter

Sophie’s very polite letter.

“Our work has never ventured into dragons of the mythical, fire breathing variety. And for this Australia, we are sorry,” we replied.

Sophie’s letter, and our response, made an unexpected splash across the globe. It was featured on TIME, Huffington Post, The IndependentYahoo, Breakfast TV, the list goes on. People contacted us offering to help, financial institutions tweeted their support and DreamWorks Studios phoned (seriously), saying they knew how to train dragons and wanted to speak with Sophie. The dreams of one little girl went viral.

We couldn’t sit here and do nothing. After all, we promised Sophie we would look into it.

So this morning at 9:32 a.m. (AEDT), a dragon was born.

3D_Toothless

Toothless, born today, is a blue female dragon. Species: Seadragonus giganticus maximus

Toothless, 3D printed out of titanium, came into the world at Lab 22, our additive manufacturing facility in Melbourne. The scientists there have printed some extraordinary things in the past—huge anatomically correct insects, biomedical implants and aerospace parts. So they thought a dragon was achievable.

“Being that electron beams were used to 3D print her, we are certainly glad she didn’t come out breathing them … instead of fire,” said Chad Henry, our Additive Manufacturing Operations Manager. “Titanium is super strong and lightweight, so Toothless will be a very capable flyer.”

Toothless is currently en route from Lab 22 in Melbourne to Sophie’s home in Brisbane.

Sophie’s mother Melissah said Sophie was overjoyed with our response and has been telling everyone dragon breath can be a new fuel. “All her friends are now saying they want to be a scientist and Sophie says she now wants to work at CSIRO. She’s saying Australian scientists can do anything,” Melissah told the Canberra Times.

We’d love to have you in our team, Sophie. For now, stay curious.

* * *

UPDATE: Dragon delivery complete.

Sophie and Toothless.

Sophie and Toothless.

Media resources: More images and video: A 3D printed dragon