3D Printing Crystal Palaces for Hermit Crabs to Call Home

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3D Printing Crystal Palaces for Hermit Crabs to Call Home

Thursday April 13, 2017 Written by Ronan

If you thought Australia’s housing market was tight, spare a thought for the poor hermit crab. Pollution, overfishing and rampant shell collecting have drastically reduced the number of scavengable shells the hermits can call home.

Thankfully, Japanese artist Aki Inomata is addressing the supply side of the problem by 3D printing some rather ornate palaces for these homeless hermit crabs. The series, aptly titled Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs?, doesn’t merely replicate the shells the crabs would ordinarily seek out. Instead, Inomata gifts them grandly constructed, crystalline structures influenced by human architecture.

Carefully designed from CT scans to fit a crab's body, Inomata hopes the homes will last long enough to be exchanged through generations (hermit crabs constantly ‘upgrade’ homes as they grow, discarding the old ones for the younglings).

With this project and others, Inomata’s art seeks a way for humans and other living creatures to collaborate and live in peaceful co-existence. She’s in good company: we’ve previously written about Elizabeth Demaray’s work in “trans-species giving,” which also involves 3D printing architecturally inspired homes for hermit crabs.

You can watch a video of Inomata’s exacting design process here, which also features the very cute sight of the crabs squeezing themselves into their new abodes.