If you weren’t aware, the hermit crab population is going through something along the lines of a housing crisis these days. The wandering water dweller who’s very life depends on the discovery and eventual inhabitance of various kinds of shells is having a very hard time procuring said mobile homes due in large part by an activity often performed by beach-goers: Shell collecting. This is such a problem that Taiwanese conservation group Houwan Preservation Association even started an online petition in an attempt to rectify the issue by requesting that collectors and restaurants send these precious shells to them so they can clean and return them to where they are most needed. What does this growing homelessness spell for the soft-reared crustacean? The same thing it would spell for us. Trouble. There is hope however, and it comes in the form of a very creative Japanese woman named Aki Inomata. This thoughtful artist lends her talents (and technology) to the cause with her project dubbed ‘Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs?‘. The project wherein she uses three dimensional renders obtained with CT scans accurately recreates wonderfully adorned plastic shells for the nomadic creatures using 3D printing technology. The phrase “beggars can’t be choosers” does not apply to the very picky crustaceans however as they tend to be very selective of where they decide to reside and that’s exactly why the extreme precision granted by the coupling of 3D printing with CT scans is so important. See, Aki already has a predisposed love for these home hunters, and by scanning the discarded shell of one of her own hermit crabs and in turn, printing it, she’s able to create beautiful and functional homes for these critters that would probably make their peers crabby with jealousy. Read more about this fascinating use of 3D printing technology as well as the nurturing artist and the encoded message and meaning behind her work here. 

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Category: Design