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Portland Keeps It Weird with Life-Sized 3D Printed Cow

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3dp_pdx_3dplab_logoThe unofficial motto of Portland, Oregon proudly states “Keep Portland Weird”, and as someone who visits the city regularly, those are not empty words. Being weird, or alternately different and fun, for many Portland residents is a lifestyle and many of them wouldn’t be afraid to admit how closely their communities resemble the satirical skits on Portlandia. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a local 3D printing club teamed up with a local steakhouse called Urban Farmer to 3D print a life-sized cow. Just because.

Although, to be fair, life-sized cow sculptures aren’t really all that weird; after all, Iowa has been attracting people to their state fair for over a century with their 1,000 pound Butter Cow. Frankly a cow made completely of butter, while delicious, sounds a lot weirder than a 3D printed cow to me. But that may simply be a case of me catching the weirds from my Portland family members. Whatever they tell you, I was not weird before they moved to Portland, that is simply slander and lies.

3dp_cow_frontThe PLA cow was designed and created by the PDX 3D Printing Lab, a 600-member strong group of 3D printing enthusiasts who meet monthly to collaborate and share their projects. The group is as diverse as you would imagine from Portland with members from all walks of life; they even count among their number an 11-year-old maker who built his own 3D printer. The group is organized by Shashi Jain, who explained that their 3D printed cow represented the intersection of art and science. Essentially using 3D modelling software and a robot to do what a woman in Iowa does with a butter knife.3dp_cow_leg

“We have maybe 10 minutes of operational talk at meetings, then the rest is ‘we could do this, we could do that. We found kindred spirits with Urban Farmer. They appreciate what we are doing and we appreciate what they are doing. Let the imagination run wild for a little bit,” Jain explained to the city’s largest paper, The Oregonian.

After being assembled, the large cow sculpture, called the CrowdCow, will be displayed in the front window of the Urban Farmer restaurant. Once installed, the steakhouse famous for using organic and locally sourced ingredients will add an interactive, multimedia component showcasing the various cuts of meat taken from a typical cow. Something that the uptight and snobby Butter Cow doesn’t even try to do.

3dp_cow_partsThe cow itself, or technically half-cow, really is life-sized and was made up of 99 individual parts that were assembled using heat and glue to join them together. All of the cow’s components required over 700 hours of 3D printing on a total of 14 different 3D printers. The CrowdCow was printed with recyclable and compostable 3D printing filament.

Here is a brief time lapsed video of the cow being assembled:

Several of the group’s members were on hand to help assemble the CrowdCow, including 11-year-old Paul whose 3D printing hobby is both encouraged and financially supported by his proud father. Another unlikely member of the group is Rosalee Moore (also known as Mazuir Ross), who used her CAD skills and donated two months of her time painstakingly sculpting a replica of the exact breed of cow that Urban Farmer uses to source their steaks and beef.

11 year old maker for scale.

11-year-old maker for scale.

Moore had her first 3D printer built for her by her partner in order to print her own line of jewelry. Moore has a background in 3D design and modelling, so now that she has a 3D printer she can design and print her projects within a day. That is a huge improvement over the several-week turnaround that was required when she ordered 3D printed parts online.

“It’s way more affordable, $20-30 per roll of material, AND it’s ready in a few hours,” Moore explains.

Urban Farmer is located in The Nines Hotel, and that is where several members of PDX 3D Printing Lab met up to assemble CrowdCow. They had several 3D printers on hand to print custom connectors to holds the parts in place until they could be connected permanently. Have any local Portland steak enthusiasts seen CrowdCow in the wild? Tell us how she looks in the Life Sized 3D Printed Cow forum at 3DPrintBoard.com.

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