Here be 3D printed dragons

Earlier this week we posted about a letter we received from Sophie, a 7-year-old girl. All she wanted was a dragon.


Sophie’s very polite letter.

“Our work has never ventured into dragons of the mythical, fire breathing variety. And for this Australia, we are sorry,” we replied.

Sophie’s letter, and our response, made an unexpected splash across the globe. It was featured on TIME, Huffington Post, The IndependentYahoo, Breakfast TV, the list goes on. People contacted us offering to help, financial institutions tweeted their support and DreamWorks Studios phoned (seriously), saying they knew how to train dragons and wanted to speak with Sophie. The dreams of one little girl went viral.

We couldn’t sit here and do nothing. After all, we promised Sophie we would look into it.

So this morning at 9:32 a.m. (AEDT), a dragon was born.


Toothless, born today, is a blue female dragon. Species: Seadragonus giganticus maximus

Toothless, 3D printed out of titanium, came into the world at Lab 22, our additive manufacturing facility in Melbourne. The scientists there have printed some extraordinary things in the past—huge anatomically correct insects, biomedical implants and aerospace parts. So they thought a dragon was achievable.

“Being that electron beams were used to 3D print her, we are certainly glad she didn’t come out breathing them … instead of fire,” said Chad Henry, our Additive Manufacturing Operations Manager. “Titanium is super strong and lightweight, so Toothless will be a very capable flyer.”

Toothless is currently en route from Lab 22 in Melbourne to Sophie’s home in Brisbane.

Sophie’s mother Melissah said Sophie was overjoyed with our response and has been telling everyone dragon breath can be a new fuel. “All her friends are now saying they want to be a scientist and Sophie says she now wants to work at CSIRO. She’s saying Australian scientists can do anything,” Melissah told the Canberra Times.

We’d love to have you in our team, Sophie. For now, stay curious.

Video: The birth of Toothless

* * *

UPDATE: Dragon delivery complete.

Sophie and Toothless.

Sophie and Toothless.

Media: Vanessa Hill,  +61 412 409 971     Media resources: More images and video: A 3D printed dragon

94 Comments on “Here be 3D printed dragons”

  1. Kerry says:

    You guys are totally awesome :)

    I do hope Sophie stays curious. Curiosity and that desire to learn and understand is the foundation of science. Unfortunately we tend to school that out of our kids!

    • That last sentence there… I’m glad I saw that here. It’s something I think people don’t talk about enough. If students were directed toward projects of their own, which they develop using their own research and passions, I think people would be a lot more successful than the current system of stressing people out with test and assignments for a conformed set of information.

      This is the opinion of one such student though, but I definitely believe what I say to be true.

  2. Amy says:

    Sooo…. how could a girl go about getting one of these? Because despite being 2 decades miss Sophie’s senior, I must admit I’d rather like a dragon for myself. There’s a real marketing niche here that you should look into.

  3. Very cool! There’s a great 3D (optical illusion) dragon at the Grand Illusions website – I wrote about it here:

  4. Alexandra Mullins, BSc says:

    I truly hope Sophie got a call from Dreamworks too :)

    Excellent work CSIRO, keep inspiring the younguns!

  5. missmuffins says:

    This marvelous, I hope Sophie got to talk to Dreamworks in the end too!

    Keep inspiring the younguns, and especially those girls. Good work CSIRO =D

  6. Aaron says:

    Any chance of getting the .stl?

  7. Warren says:

    How inspiring CSIRO and reinforced Sophie’s thoughts of the significant abilities of CSIRO scientists. I am certainly inspired. Judging how I received this page, looks like your creative efforts have gone viral again !!

  8. Nicole says:

    AWESOME story! restores some faith in humanity. I love that science makes fantasy a reality!

  9. Katherine says:

    Aww! You made me cry at work. Faith in humanity restored.

  10. Bronwyn Markwick says:

    Part one when I read it in the paper had me choked up … Part two had me in tears – thank you for respecting a little girls comments, wishes & comments and going the extra mile to create a dinosaur. Sophie and her friends (plus I don’t know how many others) probably now have an awesome interest in science. A big thank you to you all :-)

  11. Bronwyn Markwick says:

    that should have been comments, wishes & dreams

  12. Jenn says:

    Does it breathe fire?

  13. Jon says:

    Only four days from concept to delivery? Scientists totally rock.

  14. Aletheia says:

    Well done, Csiro, well done. :)

  15. OKL says:

    You guys rock!

  16. Janalynl Lindley says:

    This story gives me cause to love Australia and Australians even more.

  17. You guys are awesome! I just hope Sophie realises she’s getting a titanium dragon not a pet.

    PS Are you taking orders?! :-D

  18. Chels says:

    You guys are amazing.
    I was privileged to a few years ago work for the CSIRO team in Adelaide. It was amazing, you are an amazing institution and this just really made my day :D

  19. Your exploits are legendary! Love the colouring on the dragon as well – Australians improving on the black of the animated Toothless! I hope the Federal Government triples your funding!

  20. karyn says:

    CSIRO, you guys rock!!!! What a wonderful thing to do for a little girl!! I do wish I had one too though!!!
    Well done to whoever it was that decided not to throw a little girl’s letter in the bin, but to reply and then then to do this. Good for you!!!!

  21. You have done untold good for science in this country. I want to be a scientist too if I can work in a place with such a fantastic attitude and respect for the curious.

  22. jll1976 says:

    There isn’t a part of this story that isn’t cool. Imagination plus science equals cool! Well done to all!

  23. Discovery Centre says:

    High fives and well done from us here at the Museum Victoria Discovery Centres – I hope Sophie does come to work for you one day!

  24. Kingsley Wright says:

    Australian spirit alive and well. Not sure you would get such a response from other worldwide and very important research houses but it has ignited a passion for science in some little minds that’s fir sure and that alone is good value for money. Well done guys at CSIRO and Sophie.

  25. Anh Nguyen says:

    AKA Night Fury! :)

  26. Boris says:

    We’re in good hands with these types of scientists. Really well done.

  27. Molokai says:

    but the face should be black…..

  28. Nikki says:

    When I read the first part of this story I was delighted at the direction Sophies parents sent her to have her questions answered and the wonderfully funny way the CSIRO responded to her letter. Today you have me in tears reading how you brought her dream to life, and I can only imagine how stunned your team must have been to receive a call from Dreamworks! Thank you for making the CSIRO into a friendly and humourous entity and not just a faceless corporation, I am going to share this story with my six year old and show him that if wants to follow his dream of being a scientist, he too could be a part of your amazing team.

  29. da_user says:

    Very nice, the kids will love you!
    Do you know “Tradinno” from the German company “Zollner”?

  30. Laura says:

    As a scientist, female as well, I loved her letter and, even more, your response to her. Bravo.

  31. Karen says:

    For the first time today I have laughed with pure joy. All the sadness in the news and finally something bright and wonderful.
    Thank you CSIRO for making a little girl’s dream come to be.
    I always have faith that Aussie scientists are the best in the world and now here is the proof!

  32. Nazareno Márcio de Oliveira says:

    Parabéns a todos pela iniciativa de deixar uma criança mais feliz.

  33. SciDad says:

    You guys are awesome! I hope my daughter turns out as curious and imaginative as this little girl!

  34. nuclearpro says:

    You guys are awesome! I hope my daughter turns out as curious and imaginative as Sophie and has an amazing lab to interact with. Bravo!!

  35. Veronica says:

    I will show this to my 10 year old girl who is interested in Black holes and Fashion deign.
    Love how Sophie family encouraged her
    Love how CSIRO answered
    Love how they went the extra mile to design and create a dragon for Sophie

    Lets hope Sophie discovers and alternative fuel source and if it is with dragon fire even better!

  36. Cadspec says:

    Real inspirational stuff! CSIRO now a family name

  37. Princess furry leg says:

    It is not a black dragon … :(

  38. Bellydoc says:

    Great job keeping the dream alive, for Sophie and for the child in all of us. I especially love the cute scientist giving Toothless the sound affects at the end :)

  39. coop says:

    The Story ist told ewerywhere.
    Greetings from Germany

  40. Fraukje says:

    Ohhh what kids can do. My girl, also 7, is writing a story about a dancing dragon. I put it on my blog, it’s in Dutch first and then translated to English. It’s not finished as yet, every week we do a little more. Check out my blog if you’re interested but make sure you move over to “The Dancing Dragon”. Love this post, nice!

  41. Andrea says:

    Love that story. Well done colleagues.

  42. Cosima says:

    You guys are simply awesome. Gave me goosebumps all the way over here in Germany! :-) Thanks for a truly heartwarming story!

  43. cecilia says:

    Great idea, on wondrous world of children it is permitted! All of you are really lovely scientists for Sophie.

  44. Faerybeads says:

    We’ve ventured into hatching dragons some time ago. And since 2012 they’ve been hatching from our nest flying out all over the world to their new keepers. One of the new hatchlings is eager to fly out to Sophie should she wish to look after him. He feels this young dragon mother knows exactly how to appreciate him. Drop us a line so we can show the little one where to fly to precisly!

  45. kiana says:

    Wow!!!! That’s beautiful…God Bless!!!

  46. The Kind Hearted Team at CSIRO have made one girls dream come true and out of this 10 maybe 20 New scientists will be Born, from a Letter so the Words ( the pen is mightier than the sword) comes true

  47. Such a great story! I love that this has made the girls dreams come true and now inspired her friends!

  48. anjbeav says:

    Reblogged this on amb.

  49. Aspergers And Proud Of It says:

    Making a child’s dreams come is an amazing thing! Thank you CSIRO for being amazing!

  50. Lovely story. One good deed at a time!

  51. Little Loo says:

    That’s absolutely incredible! That’s soo awesome it gives me tingles!

  52. Reblogged this on the last page and commented:

  53. This is the cutest thing I have heard about all day! Thank you for the big smile I now have on my face, as I am sure others reading this also have. Of course the biggest smile will be on Sophie when her Toothless is delivered!

  54. Reblogged this on kraftycatcreations and commented:
    If you need a feel-good posting to read, please read this! Here’s your bit of happiness for the day! Made me grin like an idiot! lol

  55. veronieee says:

    I just love sweet stories like this! They really make my day :)

  56. Oh, how I do love dragons…this article makes me smile. =)

  57. Jess says:

    Beautiful!! If you can dream it it can be made! I applauded you for making a little girls dream come true!!

  58. Reblogged this on MagicalBirthdayDust and commented:
    Wow! this is the kind of news we like to share” Magical Inspiring Moments”
    Spread the love! share the dream! x

  59. Alex says:

    This is so heartwarming – an affirmation in the faith that people are, at heart, still connected. :)

  60. M&M says:

    This story is really inspiring!

  61. Very cool! I am digging the texture of your lovely “Toothless”. Nice to see that kids get to share the spotlight with technology.

  62. hyndsight says:

    Amazing, and so kind.

  63. gabbysword says:

    Reblogged this on Gabby's Word and commented:
    So cute.

  64. Azure says:

    This practically got me teary…Im in Nigeria so this is actually my first time hearing abouT CSIRO…and to think Toothless is coloured Azure….totally rebloging this…GOOD JOB CSIRO.

  65. Azure says:

    Reblogged this on Azure Lover and commented:
    Science can actually be fun…couldn’t help rebloging this. ^_^

  66. ljdaluz says:

    I knew it. I should have requested a dragon when I was her age.

  67. John Wu says:

    Sophie is a lovely girl with fantastic imagination, and the response of the your people are just incredible, together it has made one of the most wonderful, heart touching true stories of the year, thank you all to bring us a beautiful beginning of 2014.

  68. huynub587 says:

    Reblogged this on Brian Huynh and commented:
    Awesome ways tech is putting smiles on faces.

  69. Sophie,
    We are glad that you believe in dragons. We do too! We are raising a baby dragon in the 21st Century. we would love any helpful advice from children like you!!!

  70. I think that was awesome, especially since Dreamworks phoned to speak to her. Great job guys, thumbs up from me :)

  71. aimeelou96 says:

    Reblogged this on aimeejones96 and commented:
    this is the sweetest thing i have ever read! And the 3D dragon is amazing

  72. All the above, and … also ..

    How many parents would have corrected her mistakes and made her write a ‘neat’ copy and then not gone any further when she lost heart, and interest?

    Come to think of it, how many parents make their kids … write .. at all?

    Big, fat, fire breathing kudos all round.

    Spesh to Soph :)

  73. Stacey says:

    Let’s hope for Sophie’s sake that science becomes a bit more of a priority in this country by the time she is older. As a young lab tech who is a few weeks out from starting a PhD I can say I am not very optimistic about my future career in science. Which is sad, because it is my true passion in life, but a girl’s gotta pay the rent…

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