If you have ever had a Tarot card reading, the most dreaded card to receive can be, depending how you look at it, the “Death” card. Though the card — which will feature a skeleton or a human skull depending on the deck — itself does not simply mean that you will die soon. The Death card can also mean that you are undergoing a rebirth of some kind, and shedding old skin. Perhaps this message of rebirth — or to live life to the fullest — is what’s behind the ongoing popularity of the skull image. T-shirts, rock albums, car bumpers, our own skin (tattoos), and our 3D printing models are continually emblazoned with new and classic renditions of this powerful and simple image.
The human skull is universally used to communicate mortality, illness, death, danger — or to even honor the dead — and people never seem to tire of this simple image. For 3D printing fans, printing a skull may seem like a bit of a rite of passage. Everyone wants their own skull to sit menacingly on their desktop to remind them to step away from the computer and enjoy life while you still have it, right?
Well, the online 3D printable file sharing platform Cults has compiled its “Top 10 of 3D Printed Skulls” list to make your search for the perfect 3D printable skull design easier and more fun. Cults is “a marketpalce that connects creators of 3D models and buyers who want to print 3D objects.” And from this list alone we can see that there are plenty of different designs to choose here, from a very simple low poly skull to a much more complex, detailed, and terrifying rendering. There’s even a monkey skull egg cup for eating your soft boiled eggs!
1. leFabShop’s “To Make or Not to Make” Simplified Human Skull definitely kicks the list off as an excellent classic anatomy class kind of skull rendering, and it’s available for free so you can go ahead and print one up if you miss your high school science classes or want to recreate that feeling at home.
2. 3DKitBash‘s Skull Box with Brain takes it to a more, well, surgical level with exposed brain. The Skull Box is designed with no supports. It prints as a single part that folds into a box that can be secured with clamps on both sides of the skull. But the best part of this design is the printable brain that fits nicely inside the skull box for easy viewing.
3. Designed by Macuono with a downloadable model for $11.30, the Monkey Skull Egg Cup can be printed in food-safe ceramics, and makes an excellent addition to your usual breakfast routine of cereal and orange juice.
4. Quincy of 3D Kitbash brings us a Wolf Skull and Jaw Bone that is 4 inches tall, snaps together, uses 7-8% infill, and needs no gluing or smoothing. A promotional piece with a skull kit Kickstarter campaign in the works for Spring 2015, this wolf skull is an excellent companion for Game of Thrones fans or for all of those lone 3D printing wolves prowling around out there waiting for the next big model to download.
5. Skulls for Change has the unique idea of 3D printing and connecting skulls all over the world so people can learn to embrace the change that the skull symbolizes. This easily printed, low poly 125 x 127 x 164 mm skull is downloadable for $2.26. It takes 8 hours to print, so check out the #SkullsForChange movement to see how a printed skull can help change your life and the world.
6. You can download the Horror Skull by Kfir for $16.95, and it truly looks horrifying. The design features craters and a joined back of the head that indicates serious haunting trauma; this skull looks like it belonged to someone who did not have a good death!
7. Olas Undberg’s Hell Skull is a rendering of a terrifying creature that looks like some form of Satan’s spawn. The skull, free to download, should be placed somewhere where it can cause the most spine-tingling shudders from its viewing audience.
8. Cerebrix Human Skull from Cults is downloadable for free and was created using the Osirix sample data set “Cerebrix” using Prevue Medical’s web interface. This one looks like something you may stumble across in a graveyard: the real deal, for sure.
9. Julien La Pocher’s Skull Toy is decidedly not the real thing, but instead a cute little reminder that this whole skull thing shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Downloadable for $2.26 — it’s the perfect skull for those of you who prefer Hello Kitty to the band Slayer.
10. Last but not least is Bulb Zone’s Elvis Lapinou skull, which has a history you can read about here if your French language skills are polished enough (or you’re fluent in Google translate). The silliest skull rendering yet, it brings us full circle to that Tarot Death card concept that life is short, and change is not only imminent, but desirable and possibly humorous too.
If you weren’t thinking about 3D printing your own skull before this article, you might now be convinced it’s in the cards for you, thanks to Cult’s handy Top Ten List of 3D Printable Skulls. Let us know what you think of these designs in the Top 10 3D Printable Skulls forum thread over at 3DPB.com.