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3D Models

The Lab

African Fossils Forum


3D printing forum

Instructions for 3D Printing

The 3D printing files are made available here as STL files that have fixed meshes for printing. We have not provided the texture files but we can do this on a case by case basis so feel free to contact us with your needs. We have not tried to print each of these models and so there may be some problems which we shall work to fix. We continue to upload additional models weekly. If you can give us your feedback and make recommendations on this forum we would be grateful.

The STL files are provided are full size models. The STL files are not printer-specific. The dimensions of the fossil are provided on the viewer page as x y z in millimeters as if it were contained within a cube. You will need to scale the model as per your needs. 

For useful tips on 3D printing, there are many places online to turn to for help and support. Here are a few links that may be a start.

Ponoko 3D printing

Shapeways 3D printing

Feel free to ask questions here for other users to make suggestions to solve your printing issues. 

37 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hi - could you please provide

Hi - could you please provide specific instructions for downloading the 3D files. I have a 3D printer and I am keen to print some ancient hominin skulls. Thanks...Stef

OK - ignore previous comment

OK - ignore previous comment from me - I found the download button!

Yes the downloadable files

Yes the downloadable files are not available for every specimen although we are hoping to make this possible over the coming weeks.

Alex Echeverria
Alex Echeverria's picture
The model 1470Half downloaded

The model 1470Half downloaded succesfully and looks tiny in Repetier (box is 20x20x20 cm). Can you provide some sort of dimention (in cm or inches) of how wide and tall the real fossil is? I am very happy to have this on display for kids to see.

Attach Photos: 
Hi Alex,

We are working on getting the dimensions up on the website for all the specimens very soon. Meanwhile for KNM-ER 1470 they are (208.330mm length, 120.651mm width, 132.178mm height). I hope that helps!

We would love to see your results, so if you could share a picture of the printed cast to the forum it would be great!

Follow up: We have updated the half and quarter size files for 3D printing. Kindly, download again.

Hi guys,

Hi guys,

Any chance of getting the colour texture file for the model to download?

Thank you for your enquiry.

Thank you for your enquiry. What would you be needing this for and what resolution are you looking for? We have texture files generated from photogrammetry for some of the models. Write to me at

12much's picture
First of all: Thank you very

First of all: Thank you very much for this beautifull initiative, the African Fossils collection. Your Home page is a beauty on itself. I'm Boy from the Netherlands, Product reviewer and Release Specialist from profession, at the moment spending my spare time with 30 other enthousiastic people to accomplish a Fablab in Alkmaar, the Cheesecity from Holland, so our Fablab is called the Cheesefactory. (not yet producing cheese with a 3D printer though:-) I downloaded two specimen lately and tried to figure out how to print these with an Ultimaker, because that is what we have at the moment. A challenge I can say, but I'm happy with the result. It feels almost illegal to have this in your hands, people who don't know that it is plastic, are owned, thinking it's the real stuff. My neighbour asked If I was allowed to have this in my possesion, he wasn't even curious about the blue plastic spot at the backside and thought it belonged to the stand. The trick for it's look and feel is soft PLA from Ultimaker. It is realy difficult to print with this PLA in the first place, but if you tinker your speed and temperature carefully, in the meanwhile observing the results while doing that, it looks realy nice. The last pictures show you the finished object, where the linear holes and stripes are camouflaged because it is obvious, they don't belong there. I used an acrylic emulsion, which dries within 5 minutes. It is used by professional painters, to fill, on the spot, little holes and cracks in the paintjob before applying the finisching lacker or paint. I used Cura Version 13.12 for Windows 8, 64 bit. Soft PLA, white from Ultimaker, An Ultimaker Classic wih updated Marlin, Roomtemperature approx 16ºC Print temperature slightly higher than normal: 240ºC (the combination of these two temperatures seem to be working better than say 20-25ºC - and the standard temp of 230ºC) Layer height: 0.1mm infill 20% - next print will be doubled, too much will ruin the print with this layerheight because it hasn't the strenght to melt down enough in the last layer. Increasing the layer height leaves to much horizontal stripes IMHO. Support decreased until 15%, only touching the buildplate, 15 strands of brim is just enough to lay down a surface for the tiny support pilars. Distance support up to object: 1.5mm The rest is pretty standard (for Cura 13.12) I printed the first 5mm with standard PLA, contrast color to be able to see the effect afterwards more clearly. Next time it'll be white also, to coverup the difference in material. The soft PLA isn't strong enough to carry the skull while standing up instead of laying down on it's biggest lenght. This way you don't have to remove a large amount of support material. Feel free to comment or ask if not clear.

Attach Photos: 
Paul Constantino
Paul Constantino's picture
File sizes


Thank you very much for this great site and the 3D data. I was so excited when I received a link to this site (Thanks Nyete!).  We have already printed mandibles of P. boisei and H. ergaster/erectus to be used in my Human Evolution class. You mention that the files are half (and quarter) sizes. Does this mean the file size has been reduced by half? The replicas that we printed from the data are actual size without any manipulation on our part, so it does not appear to be the size of the object itself that is reduced by half, but the resolution does not appear to be as good as the images that you have posted on the site. Is there a way to access the full-sized STL files to increase the resolution? 

Thanks again for the great site. I love it!


Timothy Gichunge
Half and Quarter sizes

Half and Quarter sizes relate to the dimensions of the models (X,Y,Z) which can be interpreted as 3D model sizes. The file sizes are the same for half and quarter sized models, the resolution is the same too. The resolution is around 100,000 polygons for each model (half and quarter size). We can provide a much higher resolution upon request. The files for 3D printing are .stl 3D files with no texture so the 3D prints won't resemble the images of the models on the site. The 3D prints should be able to show morphology and some surface detail though.

Where are the 3D files

Hi, first of all, this is an incredible project for anybody with interest in human evolution. I have a question, and I'm starting to suspect that the problem is with my browser. None of the fossils I have opened, have a valid download link, they only have a 'not allowed' sign. 


What browser are you using? It might be the problem. Slow connections also have an issue downloading the texture files. Can you let us know please. Thanks

3D scanning

Hi Louise,

Over the last year or so I have been discussing with Kamau Gachigi of University of Nairobi's Fablab the possibility of using their Next Engine 3D scanner to scan fossils for the museum.  We have had a meeting with Dr. Mwachala at the museum here in Kenya and are currently preparing a demo of the scanning technology for him to see.  Is this something you would be interested in or willing to assist with?  I would love to meet up to discuss the idea further.

Martin Muckle

Nudelmann Richter
Nudelmann Richter's picture
Download problems fpr printable files

Hello out there,

first of all I must say that this site is super-interesting and beautifully made.
I stumbled across it during some research for hominide scull dimensions and shapes.
I was really excitet when I read that there are downloadable .stl files and due that I have access to an Ultimaker 3D printer I
started to plan to work with some of the models.
Unfortunately I noticed that I found only one model ( a pigs mandible) that shows a downloadable full size .stl file. But during some crawling on the net and on your site I found that some guys are able to download the printable files and also Make Magazine located some that worked for them. I saw that you asked before which browser one is using and I can contribute that I tried it with Crome, IE and Firefox all in latest update stage. Same thing on all browsers. My internet connection is a mid speed DSL so normally no problems with this. So my question is if it is still possible to get these files. I am interested in a few of them, mostly at the moment in KNMWT 15000 c  and some others like OH 5 and KNMER 1813 as they show interesting comparison options. Others would be nice to have and to work with but I will not overwhelm you with whishes.

I can also communicate via email if this is more convenient. In this case plase let me know an e-mail adress. If download from the site is a problem, maybe there are other ways. Also different format like step would be good to me as .stl is quite good for printing but to repair some surface errors that occur often in 3D files, .step are good to handle in different software.

Thank you for reading this.
best regards from germany


Timothy Gichunge
Hello Nudelmann,

Hello Nudelmann,

Thanks for the feeedback. Currently, we don't have downloadable models for KNMWT 15000c and OH5 but we are in the process of re-scanning them so that we can upload downloadable 3D models for printing.


There are quite a number of models on the site that are available for download, besides the pig mandible, but they are currently not been displayed for download. One example is KNMER 1813. We are looking to rectify the issue and we will update in due course.

Timothy Gichunge
Hello Nudelmann, the download

Hello Nudelmann, the download links have been fixed and you can now download models for printing for the specimens that have them like KNMER 1813. Happy Printing!

Nudelmann Richter
Nudelmann Richter's picture
Hello Timothy,

Hello Timothy,


thank you very much for your kind reply. I tried a bit and after some issues with gateway timeouts I managed to download KNMER 1813.

This is anyway an interesting specimen and I will learn with it some data conversion and other work with. Of course it will find the way into the printer. For main project I am still interested in the other specimen like Turkana Boy and other. I understand, that it will take some time for rescanning etc. I really appreciate this fantastic work. I don't want to sound pushy but do you have any idea of a timeline or schedule for when you might have the .stl data downloadable for KNMWT 15000c etc.? I ask becaue I'd like to make some plans so if I know if the shedule is about weeks, month or year I will have an I idea when I may proceed. Sorry for answering so late bu in between the site seemed to be down for some admin work. So happy that u r online again.

Anyway thank you very much, and best regards



Timothy Gichunge
Hello stefan,

Hello stefan,

The downloadable models for the Nariokotome boy will be available in two weeks or less, hopefully. Kindly send your email address to so that we can alert you when the models are available for download.

Nudelmann Richter
Nudelmann Richter's picture
Hi Thimothy,

Hi Thimothy,

thank you, I've sent you an e-mail to the adress you mentioned above.



Need help buying a 3D printer!

Hey guys!  ;D

I'm mostly new to this whole 3D printer thing, so I could use some help finding the perfect one!

I've been looking at some of the 3D printers available today, and I found a new model with a affordable price, the

 printed outcomes look great, so does the printer itself!


What do you think guys? Should I try it?

Ngechu's picture
Hi TomiEngineer,
Hi TomiEngineer,
Thank you for your message.
The CraftBot looks quite interesting but we have no idea how well it compares to other 3D printers out there!
Good luck and let us know if you decide to get one and how well it works. We would love to hear from you.
Nudelmann Richter
Nudelmann Richter's picture
WT 15000c

Hi Ngechu,

today I noticed that the download link changes so now I found the complete cranium with mandible. Thank you very much for that. I saw also that the file size is much smaller now (1,2 MB instead of 16 MB before. I guess this is because the file I found today is scanned in lower resolution, right? Now I can play a little bit and see how I can process it suitable for my printer. Thanks again and best regards


Ngechu's picture
WT 15000c

Hi Stefan,

You are most welcome, and yes the file is of a lower resolution play around with it and tell me if it suits you well. Thank you very much.

Regards Ngechu.

inexpensive, reliable, supplier for Filaments here on US

Hi guys,
me and my family are about to start a small 3D printing business. somewhat like a 3d print and pickup station. So i am looking for suggestions on where to get the best value for filaments here in us? reply is highly appreciated. thanks

Inexpensive, reliable, supplier for Filaments here on US

Hello Sam,

Unfortunately we are not in a position to offer any advise or recommendation on this since we are based in Kenya.

However we are grateful and hope you find one that will really suit you.



Craig Hassler
Texture files

Good Afternoon,

I would be very interested in getting the texture files for the KNMER3733 skull, I have printer one model from the available STL file and would like to print a more detailed one for use in my Anthropology class and to have as a personal souviner after the class.

Please let me know what exactly I have to do to get the texture file(s).

Thank you for the great STL files, they are a great hit in my classmates; I have printed several of then at 1/3 scale for my fellow students to use in class. When are some of the other specimens that show as "not available" gong to become available if at all ? I am working on including proper coloration in the STL file so that multicolor printer (I use a gypsum based printer that prints in full color) will be able to produce more accurate models. Once I finalize the method I will send you copies of the colored files for you to distribute, should you choose to do so.

Again thank you very much for your wonderful files and web site,


Timothy Gichunge
Hi Craig, 

Hi Craig, 

Currently, we don't provide textured 3D models for printing. The decision to only provide .stl files is what our current agreements allow. When that changes, we will inform 

Michael Brollini
Michael Brollini's picture
Thank you very much for

Thank you very much for allowing access to this wonderful collection.

Here is my first attempt at printing one of your files.




stone tools

I am interested in downloading and printing a number of the stone tools (i.e. the hammerstone, core, flake, etc.) that are posted, but I see that they are not yet available for download. How soon will they be available? I would like to print them for use in the beginning of the school year.

Ngechu's picture


Glad that you are interested in having 3D models of the tools,unfortunately we are not in a position to avail the stl files for now. The reason being that they are still being studied and also to provide ample time for guys to read their publication. In six months the stl files will be available,kindly bear with us.




Help for Fossil Printing

I'm a high school teacher trying to print fossils to use in class.  I downloaded and printed a skull from an .stl file using Meshmixer and MakerBot but I think I damaged the printer and my tech guy won't let me print another fossil.  I was wondering if someone who is familiar with makerbot could help.  Thanks

Help for Fossil printing

Hi Willida,

Unfortunately we lack the tech expertise in dealing with hardware components of 3D printers. But I highly recommend you look up Makerbot's website for assistance, also there's a FaceBook page 3D printing ( that is a support forum for guys like you with printing issues.

Glad that you are passionate in printing the models we do provide on our site, too bad your printer had isssues. Good luck with fixing it.

Joel Reid
Joel Reid's picture
Models taken down?

I notice a lot of models were taken down, is there a reason for this?

Hi Joel,

Hi Joel,

Yes some of the models are missing from our site. This is after we migrated from the Sketchfab 3D viewer to Autodesk online gallery. Unfortunately they had already been deleted during this transition; but we are re-scanning them. We will keep on updating you on our social media platforms once we have them updated.

Sorry for any inconvenience caused,kindly bear with us.

Thank you for the concern, it really matters to us much.

iMom's picture
Paranthropus boisei

Hi could you please provide the texture for the above stl file



The specimens displayed on this site are published specimens unless otherwise indicated. The information about the artifacts on this site is of a general nature only and unless otherwise indicated, has been written either by members of the African Fossils team, the National Museums of Kenya or the Turkana Basin Institute. The printed models are not of a high enough resolution to enable accurate scientific measurements and have generated using photogrammetry and in some cases low resolution digital models have been generated using laser scanners.

The information in this site is subject to change without notice.

Terms and Conditions

All copyright for the images and 3D models on this page belong to African Fossils and National Museums of Kenya and are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike License.


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