The Green Living Guy

December 19, 2011 (Brooklyn, NY) – Project Shellter has succeeded in designing 3D-printed shells that hermit crabs can call home. Launched in October as a collaboration between MakerBot Industries and TeamTeamUSA, Project Shellter aims to alleviate the housing shortage faced by hermit crabs. 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.

Hermit crabs don’t make their own shells; they scavenge their homes. As the natural shell supply is decreasing, hermit crabs have been forced to stick their butts into bottles or shotgun shells to find shelter. With Project Shellter’s breakthrough, this no longer has to be the sad reality.

MakerBot Industries, the creator of the Thing-O-Matic 3D printer, and TeamTeamUSA, an art and technology collective, joined forces for this crowd-sourced science experiment. MakerBot, along with members of their community have been furiously creating designs for shells to be printed on the Thing-O-Matic and placed in the crabitat to test as potential homes.

The Project Shellter team began by testing printed shells of all colors, sizes, and materials to learn what the crabs preferred. 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.

Shell designs from the MakerBot community have also been posted on, and tagged with “SHELLTER.” Thingiverse is MakerBot’s online community where users can post digital designs and collaborate on open source hardware.

Cameras have been set up for constant viewing of both crabitats. To watch the crabs live visit Project Shellter’s YouTube page (

MakerBot Industries is a company founded in January 2009 by Bre Pettis, Adam Mayer, and Zach Smith producing an open source 3D printer to democratize manufacturing. You order it, build it, and you have a machine that can make you almost anything!

The MakerBot works like a robotic hot glue gun: ABS (the same plastic used to make Lego) or biodegradable PLA thermoplastic goes into the MakerBot as filament and is heated to a controlled temperature. The melted plastic is then pushed through the nozzle in a thin stream, building an object layer by layer.

MakerBot Industries was named one of the top 20 startups in NYC, and has been featured in The New York Times, Wired, Engadget, The Colbert Report, Make: Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, IEEE Spectrum, CNN, The Financial Times, NPR, The Economist, and others.


TeamTeamUSA is an art & technology collaboration initiative founded by artist, technologist, amateur scientist, and inventor Miles Lightwood as a creative outlet for his combined passions. Mr. Lightwood is a graduate of Otis College of Art and Design, employed as a staff software engineer at Disney Interactive Media Group, and holds one patent with several more pending.

TeamTeamUSA’s projects have included ironic product design, re-interpretations of iconic branding and the most recent investigations into 3-D printing. TeamTeamUSA’s mantra “Go!”, illustrates a commitment to enthusiastic exploration of technological innovations as applied to art and design.

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