Tag Archives: 3D printing

3D printing revisited: A soil model for experimenting

3DP_soil_AbertayIt is relatively straightforward to envision 3D printed EVOs (let’s call them Physical Environmental Models or PEMs) to be of use as concept and demonstration models in the environmental sciences. But how about stretching the scope further and using PEMs even for research and experimentation?

A team of scientists at Abertay University (UK) has already taken steps in this direction. They used ct scanning for obtaining the intricate 3D structure of soil and visualized it in the computer. Then they used powder bed 3D printing to produce a nylon model of the scanned soil volume that realistically traces the detailed structure of the soil. Their aim is to use this ‘articficial soil block’ for investigating microbial interactions in soil.

It seems it’s about time to sit back and start thinking about all the possibilities that making specific EVOs physical may offer to environmental sciences.

Creating an object for 3D-printing

In this tutorial we create a landscape model such that it can be sent off for 3D-printing. This tutorial gives you just an overview over important aspects to be considered in the process and is meant to prepare you for the possibility of making EVOs physical.

evohd—Blender Internal Renderer—Blender 2.67b — Duration: 14’36”

For much more detailed instructions visit the 3D-printing with Blender video course by Dolf (Macouno) Veenvliet.

3D printing of objects

1) adjust separate objects; 2) combine to one mesh object; 3) print

1) adjust separate objects; 2) combine to one mesh object; 3) print

Objects designed for 3D printing can be imported into Blender in various file formats (or can be modeled in Blender itself). There are tools built into Blender that help prepare digital objects for 3D printing.

An EVO routine is available that converts several (intersecting) objects of an environmental scene into one continuous, printable mesh.

Will EVOs materialize in future?

A 3-D printed model „landscape“ for illustrating the metastability concept. Depending on the location of release, kinetic energy and disturbances the spheres come to rest at troughs of different potential energy or perhaps even on a saddle (labile position).

A 3-D printed model „landscape“ for illustrating the metastability concept. Depending on the location of release, kinetic energy and disturbances the spheres come to rest at troughs of different potential energy or perhaps even on a saddle (labile position).

2013 is the year 3D printing pentrates everyone’s mind. New 3D printers and fields of application pop up every week. Thus, the question arises whether EVOs will remain virtual for teaching or wether some of them will turn into physical objects eventually.

An answer to this question should consider two main criteria: In which cases do physical rather than virtual EVOs have a didactical advantage and provide easier access to understanding a concept, and are the efforts for 3D printing an EVO justified (if at all possible)?

It’s probably too early to tell, but the options are on the table and the options will likely proliferate in future …