Project Shellter Update: Hermit Crabs Accept Printed Homes

In late October, we brought you news of a new endeavor by the Makerbot community. The creator of the Thing-O-Matic, a printer that can create 3D objects, MakerBot was rallying its community of hackers, artists and makers to come up with alternative shells for homeless hermit crabs.

Two months later, we’re happy to report that the project appears to have been a success! In recent weeks, two hermit crabs in the “crabitat” at Shellter West in Los Angeles have adopted plastic shells that were created on a MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer.

The Project Shellter team began by testing printed shells of all colors, sizes, and materials to learn what the crabs preferred. Residents of the “crabitat” were offered shells made from two plastics – ABS (what Lego is made from), and biodegradable PLA plastic. Both shell adoptions have been in shells modeled on that of the Oxystele sinensis sea snail, printed in ABS plastic, which is the standard material used by MakerBot to print objects.

All crab participants were kept under close surveillance during the project. Watch printed shell adoption #1 in the video below, and visit the Project Shellter below to see the second one.

For more info, visit MakerBot’s blog, Project Shellter’s FaceBook, and Twitter page.

Related Reading:

King Crab Invasion Likely If Antarctic Waters Get Warmer

Gulf of Mexico “Dead Zone” Larger Than Ever And Growing

Google Earth Video Shows Ocean Pollution Is A Global Problem

Image Credit: Makerbot – Project Shellter

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Christine Stewart

Yay, save the hermit crabs!

Nancy L.
Nancy L.3 years ago


alex l.
alex l.3 years ago

hermit crabs are threatened right now because of pollution and human consumption of shells. when they grow, they have no where to move, and are left "naked" - which means they will die very easily.
if they stay in a shell that is too small, they will also die, because they will effectively be crushed as they grow.
projects like this are attempting to help by making shells that they can use, and that will not be attractive to humans.
the biodegradable plastic shell will be rejected by people because it is plastic, but will suit a crab very well.
hermit crabs are important to the health of the sea, and when they die off, the sea around them is less healthy.
helping them is not only cool - a lot of science goes into figuring out what they like in their shells - but compassionate, and logical in terms of helping our oceans to fight against the crushing weight of mankind.

Maria T.
Maria T.3 years ago

Thank you.

Waltraud U.
Waltraud U.3 years ago

Thank you !

Dianne Marchie
Dianne Marchie3 years ago

That was an amazing task for Kendall.She's home now.

John Mansky
John Mansky3 years ago

Why did she leave the burrow without her natural shell? Why have two?..

Ruth S.
Ruth C.3 years ago

Plastic? why plastic?

Grace Adams
Grace Adams3 years ago

I guess the next step is to put out a few plastic shells in places where hermit crabs frequent but there are not enough natural shells to go around, and see what really wild hermit crabs make of the plastic imitation shells then.

Sue H.
Sue H.3 years ago

This seems to be a confusing article. If these crabs are in captivity then it makes sense. Would not make sense if they were in the ocean.