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Original research article, a 3d printing short course: a case study for applications in the geoscience teaching and communication for specialists and non-experts.

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  • Reservoir Geomechanics Research Group, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

3D printing developed as a prototyping method in the early 1980s, yet it is considered as a 21st century technology for transforming digital models into tangible objects. 3D printing has recently become a critical tool in the geoscience research, education, and technical communication due to the expansion of the market for 3D printers and materials. 3D printing changes the perception of how we interact with our data and how we explain our science to non-experts, researchers, educators, and stakeholders. Hence, a one-day short course was designed and delivered to a group of professors, students, postdoctoral fellows, and technical staff to present the application of 3D printing in teaching and communication concepts in the geoscience. This case study was aimed at evaluating how a diverse group of participants with geoscience and engineering background and no prior experience with computer-aided modeling (CAD) or 3D printing could understand the principles of different 3D printing techniques and apply these methods in their respective disciplines. In addition, the course evaluation questionnaire allowed us to assess human perception of tangible and digital models and to demonstrate the effectiveness of 3D printing in data communication. The course involved five modules: 1) an introduction lecture on the 3D printing methods and materials; 2) an individual CAD modeling exercise; 3) a tour to 3D printing facilities with hands-on experience on model processing; 4) a tour to experimentation facilities where 3D-printed models were tested; and 5) group activities based on the examples of how to apply 3D printing in the current or future geoscience research and teaching. The participants had a unique opportunity to create a digital design at the beginning of the course using CAD software, analyze it and 3D print the final model at the end of the course. While this course helped the students understand how rendering algorithms could be used as a learning aid, educators gained experience in rapid preparation of visual aids for teaching, and researchers gained skills on the integration of the digital datasets with 3D-printed models to support societal and technical objectives.

Introduction

3D printing is a 21st century technology for transforming digital models into physical objects. This technology is rapidly evolving, with more access to 3D printing machines and materials ( Wohlers Report, 2019 ). This is an innovative tool in medical ( Baden et al., 2015 ) and biomedical sciences ( Hoy, 2013 ), engineering ( Meyers et al., 2016 ; Boyajian et al., 2020 ), and communication ( Baden et al., 2015 ; Malmström et al., 2020 ). 3D printing revolutionizes how we interact with our data and how we explain our science to non-experts ( Horowitz and Schultz, 2014 ). Creating repeatable, tangible models is emerging in the geoscience education and research as well as in the related industries, such as petroleum recovery, groundwater storage, and carbon dioxide sequestration ( Ishutov et al., 2018 ). One of the biggest advantages of 3D printing is that all the processes involved in the creation of a 3D object, from generating the design to obtaining the printed part, facilitate the learning of concepts and tools, which also develops creativity and communication skills. Earth science data are often modeled in 3D, and 3D printers can provide this 3D visualization and tangible aspect of digital data ( Figure 1 ).

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FIGURE 1 . Major benefits of using 3D printing in geosciences. It is useful for developing creativity and design skills through 3D modeling. 3D printing is a convenient tool for rapid manufacture of learning and teaching aids. Any 2D or 3D model can be replicated for a better communication, especially among non-specialists. Any digital data can be reproduced with 3D printing, even if the physical sample does not exist anymore. Research ideas and concepts can be repeatedly tested on the 3D-printed samples. All data can be retrieved or repeated from the digital repositories, which include files of 3D-printed models.

3D printing or so-called additive manufacturing of an object involves deposition of a material layer by layer ( Squelch, 2017 ). Therefore, this technology enables manufacturing models in various sizes and proportions (e.g., small objects can be printed large, so that more details are visible or large objects can be scaled down, so that one can hold the planet in the hand). Sustainable learning through a tangible approach is critical for understanding of complex geologic ideas, where learners can collect, gather and evaluate information about the exterior of the model and internal structures ( Szulżyk-Cieplak et al., 2014 ). Moreover, the same model can be used to communicate these ideas to others, including non-experts in a technical subject ( Dadi et al., 2014 ). 3D printing is essential for commination with impaired people, especially students who require special needs for education ( Kostakis et al., 2015 ; Jo et al., 2016 ; Pantazis and Priavolou, 2017 ; Koehler et al., 2018 ). In the Earth science curriculum, those students can learn common topics such as volcanoes or plate tectonics by using 3D-printed models in the classroom or at home. Buehler et al. (2016) demonstrates an example of a short course for students with intellectual disabilities in an inclusive context that results in enhancing digital literacy skills and reducing stigmas about these individuals at a community level.

Application of 3D printing in high-school education has already shown enhanced haptic perception of the learning material. Elrod (2016) emphasized that if 3D printing would be used in the K-12 environment, students could be better prepared for careers in emerging fields of technology [e.g., science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM disciplines)]. Schelly et al. (2015) demonstrated that even a 3-day short course for middle- and high-school teachers from a variety of disciplines (sciences, engineering, and arts) gained a high interest in utilizing this technology in their classrooms. Chiu et al. (2015) presented a successful model for learning, self-learning, and mastery learning approaches for freshman students with different levels of technological literacy using 3D printers. Reggia et al. (2015) suggested that providing engineering students with an opportunity to perform a project-based design course using 3D printing was an essential curricular element in many engineering programs. Chien and Chu (2018) proposed that 3D printing could enable high-school students to improve their ability to transform from STEM to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) using 3D printers and to create a bridging curriculum with respect to high-school and college students.

Roy and Brine (2017) developed a coursework model to build intellectual capital for the next generation who would vastly depend on 3D printing, because they would shape a smart community in both developing and developed economy context. Martin et al. (2014) explained an idea of “think globally, produce locally,” where 3D printing would become more affordable with the versatility of machines and the ability to engage students with many different STEM-based activities. Gatto et al. (2015) showed that engineering education is on the course of adapting to the social and industrial revolution brought by additive manufacturing, because the latter allowed for sharing digital data in repositories and repeatedly reproducing the data to test ideas and concepts ( Figure 1 ).

For the geoscience education, not many examples are found in the literature for using 3D printing in any full-time curriculum or short courses. Ford and Minshall (2019) demonstrate how teaching models of terrains, fossils, and mineral crystals can complement digital models for a better perception of 3D features. 3D printing is currently used in four geoscience areas, primarily for research and communication: paleontology, geomorphology, porous rocks, geomechanics ( Figure 2 ). These 3D-printed models help organizing a full description, classification, and preservation of geologic specimens. Resolution of 3D printers determines the accuracy of internal and external features of 3D-printed models and hence affects the repeatability of the digital design in different materials ( Figure 2 ). These characteristics are critical not only for creating teaching aids in the Earth Science curriculum, but also for conducting experimental research with 3D-pritned specimens ( Ishutov et al., 2018 ). 3D printing also has value for communication of geoscience to non-specialist audiences to convey technical information, to support legal arguments, and to provide general knowledge of the nature. Currently, there is no universal short course that can provide fast, but positive learning experience of digital modeling and 3D printing to understand and explain geologic concepts among both experts and generalists.

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FIGURE 2 . Applications of 3D printing in the geoscience research areas: (A) paleontology, (B) geomorphology, (C) porous rocks, and (D) geomechanics. A blue chart indicates the characteristics of 3D-printed models that are critical for each of the geoscience areas. Materials used in a specific application have different physical and chemical properties, which affect the resolution of a 3D-printed model. 3D printer’s hardware and post-processing of 3D-printed models determine the accuracy of external and internal features. A combination of the three previous characteristics affects the repeatability of a digital design 3D-printed in multiple copies.

This course was developed to test how a group of participants from STEM disciplines, but with various academic backgrounds could perceive the fundamentals of available 3D printing techniques and materials and their relative merits. With little or no prior knowledge of CAD modeling and 3D printing, participants learnt about applications of 3D printing in studies of reservoir rocks ( Squelch 2017 ), fossils ( Rahman et al., 2012 ), geomechanics ( Hodder et al., 2018 ), geomorphology ( Hasiuk and Harding, 2016 ), and porous media ( Ishutov, 2019 ). This one-day short course was divided into five modules and involved students, postdoctoral fellows, technicians, and professors interested in current advances of 3D printing in research and teaching. In addition, participants explored the application of 3D printing in a technical communication. The objectives of the study included: 1) to evaluate if learners with versatile educational and cultural backgrounds could perceive the basic concepts of 3D printing techniques and material properties to provide an assessment of 3D-printed models for research in their respective discipline; 2) to test if fast learning of CAD modeling and 3D printing could help the participants utilize 3D-printed models to explain geologic concepts to generalist audiences; and 3) to prove that 3D-printed models were effective tools for the geoscience education.

Materials and Methods

The short course was designed for the participants without prior experience of CAD modeling or 3D printing. In addition, the course was open for students, professors, postdoctoral fellows, technicians, and research associates from the geoscience and engineering disciplines. The short course took place at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada and involved 50 participants. The course learning outcomes were: 1) to understand capabilities and limitations of different 3D printing techniques; 2) to demonstrate how to digitally design 3D-printable models using CAD software, web platforms, and computed tomography data; 3) to provide the assessment of digital models and their relative replicas 3D-printed from real data; and 4) to characterize how 3D printing can increase the effectiveness of teaching and data communication.

Course Organization and Materials

The short course was organized in five modules: 1) an introduction lecture on the 3D printing methods and materials; 2) an individual CAD modeling exercise; 3) a tour to 3D printing facilities with hands-on experience on model processing; 4) a tour to experimentation facilities where 3D-printed models are tested; and 5) group activities based on the examples of how to apply 3D printing in current or future geoscience research and teaching ( Table 1 ). Each module was taught by one of the four instructors, and facility tours were led by four instructors, two instructors per facility. All instructions on how to complete each module were organized in a digital e-book (pdf).

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TABLE 1 . A brief description of topics covered in each module of the short course.

Module 1 included a lecture on the history of “rapid prototyping” and how 3D printing evolved as a tool for engineering industries. In addition, the workflow of creating a digital model and transferring it into a tangible object was covered. The model preparation for 3D printing was explained with examples of using printing specifications, such as the thickness of each layer, the vertical and horizontal dimensions, and the print speed. The lecture also contained post-processing methods, such as ultraviolet (UV) light curing or removal of support material that held the internal porous structure and external elements during printing to avoid deformation or damage of intricate designs. Instructors discussed 3D printing methods that differed by power source, resolution, precision, accuracy, build volume, materials, and price. The importance and applications of 3D-printed models were covered briefly for the areas of geoscience and engineering. At the end of the lecture, participants had a discussion session with instructors ( Figure 3A ).

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FIGURE 3 . Photographs of the short course modules. (A) Module 1 “Overview of the 3D printing technology.” Course instructors presented a lecture on common additive manufacturing methods and materials and showed examples of 3D-printed models. (B) Module 2 “The art of making 3D-printable models.” Participants learned basic skills of CAD modeling using TinkerCAD. (C) Module 3 “Elko Garage Tour.” Live 3D printing process was shown to participants. (D) Module 4 “GeoPrint Tour.” Participants were shown industrial scale printing and experimental program performed with 3D-printed models. (E) Module 5 “Application of 3D printing in the geoscience.” Discussion of specific applications of geoscience models in edication and research.

Module 2 involved an individual CAD modeling exercise using an online platform on laptops or tablets ( Figure 3B ). The scale of 3D-printed models varied over the orders of magnitude: from nanometer-size features to the size of the 3D printer’s build volume. This activity was aimed at teaching the participants to create complex geological models (like rocks and fossils) using common shapes (e.g., cylinders, cubes) or multi-scale elements, which were then translated for 3D printing. At the end of this exercise, participants were able to export their model of choice for 3D printing and receive at the end of the course.

Module 3 represented a tour to the Elko Engineering Garage (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada) that introduced the participants to the activities associated with creating and 3D printing digital designs as well as post-processing of 3D-printed models ( Figure 3C ). Participants were exposed a variety of 3D printers and post-processing tools, as well as they had an opportunity to investigate a 3D laser scanner. Instructors made connections of the material covered in the lecture, such as material properties, 3D printing resolution, and model dimensions with the real applications in workspace. Participants were able to observe the 3D printing process of the digital models that they designed in module 2 and had a hands-on experience on post-processing their models to make give them a smooth, finished look.

Module 4 involved a visit to the GeoPRINT facility (University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada), where an industrial-grade sand printer and a high-resolution stereolithography printer were located ( Figure 3D ). This tour introduced participants to two specific 3D printers used for geomechanical and flow research at Reservoir Geomechanics Research Group. Participants explored about the differences in material preparation, printing, and post-processing between these two technologies.

Module 5 included a group exercise on the comparison of CAD models for porous rocks, fossils and geomorphic features with their 3D-printed counterparts ( Figure 3E ). Participants assessed the differences in material finishes, accuracy of external and internal elements, and scales of 3D printing (using criteria in Figure 2 ). In addition, there was a discussion of potential application of 3D-printed models in the geoscience experiments to validate numerical simulations and complement existing laboratory tests. Instructors facilitated the discussion of 3D-printing techniques that participants have seen in modules 3 and 4 and how they could be applied to fundamental research in the areas of multi-phase fluid flow and reactive transport, discrete fracture networks, geomorphology, and paleontology ( Figure 3E ).

3D Printers and Software

Out of seven ASTM categories of 3D printing, four methods were shown in this short course: stereolithography, binder jetting, material extrusion, and material jetting. All 3D printers belonging to these categories were demonstrated in Modules 3 and 4. Materials used for demonstration of 3D printing techniques included polymers, plastics, sand, and resins.

The software used in module 2 for CAD modeling exercises was Autodesk TinkerCAD ( https://www.tinkercad.com ). It is a free online platform that requires only registration with email. The software used for processing of digital designs before 3D printing was Autodesk Meshmixer ( http://www.meshmixer.com ). It is a freeware that can be installed on most operating systems.

Post-Course Questionnaire

The course survey is proved to be one of the effective forms of analysis of the short course efficiency ( Chiu et al., 2015 ; Schelly et al., 2015 ; Meyers et al., 2016 ; Pantazis and Priavolou, 2017 ; Ford and Minshall, 2019 ; Assante et al., 2020 ). The surveys are usually conducted before and after the course to assess how learning objectives are fulfilled. In each module, the following criteria were used to build the course evaluation survey:

• fundamentals of 3D printing and its basic operating principles;

• advantages and disadvantages of 3D printing technologies;

• performance and functional constraints of 3D printing for specific applications.

• complete 3D-printing sequence of designing, fabricating, and measuring models;

• source of mismatch between digital and 3D-printed models.

• causes of errors and irregularities in 3D-printed models;

• hands-on experience of 3D printing in class for improved student understanding of subject matter.

• important 3D printing research challenges;

• resources to support experiments for teaching and classroom projects.

• understanding if humans learn better when using 3D-printed models;

• current and future 3D printing applications.

At the end of the course, instructors distributed an electronic evaluation form to all participants and asked them to complete it within 1 h. The questions in the survey were composed in a Google Docs form to allow for anonymous and individual response from each participant, who was required to indicate only their academic level. The post-course questionnaire was segmented into sections: 1) overall recommendation for the short course; 2) assessment of course materials (e-booklet, lecture slides, exercise instructions; 3) course content (cohesiveness of modules, ease of learning the material, laboratory tours, and visual aids); 4) time spent on each module; and 5) evaluation of instructors’ teaching abilities; 6) effectiveness of course learning outcomes. Section 1 responses were based on Yes/No scale. Responses in sections 2, 3, 5 were collected using the following scheme: strongly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree, and strongly agree. Responses in section 4 were registered using the following scheme: not enough, adequate, too much, no opinion. The last section was evaluated using Likert scale out of 5, where a higher value is a more positive response.

Results and Discussion

The short course involved 50 participants from geosciences and engineering ( Figure 4A ); it was expected to receive mixed comments about the course contents and organization of modules. Nonetheless, 97% of all participants responded that the course would be recommended to others ( Figure 4B ). In this case, others were referred to peer students, colleagues, and other academic staff. This outcome was positive to propose the course to various professional organizations as a customized workshop, e.g., for industry professionals interested in the use of 3D printing in research and technical communication. The instructors observed that despite the differences in age and academic background, the participants communicated with each other in a friendly manner. Based on the results of the post-course questionnaire, the short course outcomes were assessed for the adequacy and organization of the course materials, structure, and coherence of the course modules, and efficiency of the course instructors and learning objectives.

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FIGURE 4 . Demographics of the short course participants. (A) Indication of the academic level and/or position. (B) Responses of participants from (A) to the question: “Will you recommend this short course to others?”

Course Materials

An e-book contained a set of short, descriptive instructions with images and figures about each module ( Figure 5 ) that was useful to most participants. Course objectives were clear, so that the short course agenda was understood by learners with different backgrounds (24 positive responses out of 32 responses in total). In addition, the survey showed that the e-book was a valuable component of the course as it helped navigating through activities and exercises (27 positive responses out of 33 responses in total). On the other hand, not all participants found the e-book visually appealing and suggested adding pseudo 3D cartoons that would visually simplify and outline different 3D printing processes (20 positive responses out of 33 responses in total; Figure 6 ). Other comments pointed out on the use of bolded text, underlining or different colors to highlight the key information in the e-book. Also, more than half of the class noted that activities were clearly defined by the instructors and suggested to include more details about the operation of software as numbered bullet points so there would be a step-by-step tutorial (21 positive responses out of 35 responses in total; Figure 6 ). A few additional notes were that the introductory lecture slides in module 1 were cohesive and well organized. For the next run of the course, instructors will prepare a short workflow with bullet points for each activity and exercise and will place them in the e-book as a support material. More images and snapshots will be added for each activity to allow the participants to navigate between the exercises.

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FIGURE 5 . An example of the module instructions from the course e-book. The full version of the e-book was available for participants a day before the course. Each module contained synopsis and a set of exercises.

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FIGURE 6 . Responses of participants for evaluation of the course materials, such as e-booklet and slides. All the course activities were described in the e-booklet provided on the short course day.

Course Content

The course content was developed using several approaches: lecture slides, individual exercises, group exercises, and facility tours. The majority of the class responded that modules were cohesive (29 positive responses out of 33 responses in total; Figure 7 ). Participants were mostly engaged during the visits to the Elko Garage and GeoPrint facilities (modules 3 and 4), because these tours improved their understanding of the 3D printing process (30 positive responses out of 32 responses in total). Observing the printing methods and interaction with 3D-printed models provided a motivation for the learners to incorporate this technology in their research, teaching, or other activities (29 positive responses out of 34 responses in total; Figure 7 ). In addition, the majority of participants could understand all aspects of digital design, processing, and post-processing of 3D-printed models via the CAD modeling exercise (module 2) (31 positive responses out of 34 responses it total). Instructors observed that even those participants who did not have any experience with digital modeling of simple shapes could learn it fast, because at the end of the exercise everyone was on the same level.

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FIGURE 7 . Responses of participants for evaluation of the course content. Participants assessed each activity at the end of the short course. *A question about the advanced 3D printing course is whether participants would like to have a short course on the applications of 3D printing in their respective discipline (not geoscience).

The group exercise involving comparison of digital models with their 3D-printed counterparts and the discussion of applications in the geosciences (Module 5) was expected to be challenging, because the participants were divided into mixed groups of 10 people to avoid accumulating representatives of the same department and academic level in one group. E.g., one group might have consisted of two undergraduate students from civil engineering and geology, three professors from electrical engineering, computer engineering and geophysics, three postdoctoral fellows from mechanical engineering, and petroleum engineering, and two research associates from atmospheric science and computer science, respectively. Most of the class responded positively to such combination of groups, because it allowed them to share a broader spectrum of ideas given the versatility of backgrounds (32 positive responses out of 35 responses in total; Figure 7 ). Some participants responded that they would prefer to classify the groups by the department, so that they would share the same interest in 3D printing and might make the group work more cohesive. This model could be another option for the group activity, where the groups could be formed by the department only, but the course contents would need to be more general, rather than focusing on the geoscience and engineering applications.

Participants would also asked to have more group activities to share the knowledge learnt, which confirmed that this intentional split into mixed groups worked well for leaning the unknown concepts. A few people were not interested in the geoscience applications and would have liked to participate in the content related to their discipline only or in a more generic content. This was a viable comment, and more than half of the class responded that they would like to have an advanced 3D printing course to explore the applications in their relative subjects of interest (26 positive responses out of 30 responses in total; Figure 7 ). Perhaps a separate short course covering specific applications of 3D printing in STEM disciplines might be developed to satisfy this interest. The most expected comment was that participants were thinking of getting their own 3D printer to manufacture models for research, teaching, and communication.

Each module had a different time period for completion, because it depended on the speed of the instructor’s delivery and the pace of participants ( Figure 8 ). It was designed to spend more time on individual and group exercises (Modules 2 and 5), so that the pace between the participants could be averaged as some people needed more time to learn new tools. In general, almost all learners (29 out of 33) agreed that the 50-min lecture in module 1 was sufficient to grasp the main concepts. Some participants (12 out of 33) noted that they would need more time to go through the functionalities of the software in Module 2 to complete the CAD exercises. In future, this module could be timed in a different way, where the participants would have an extensive, detailed introduction into the software and then they would be given a set of exercises to complete. Also, for those who could complete a mandatory set of exercises faster, additional activities would be provided. For the group exercises (module 5), about half of the class completed their assignments on time, while a quarter of the class felt that the time could be reduced ( Figure 8 ). To adjust this module, more exercises would be provided, specifically a small section discussing case studies in the geoscience.

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FIGURE 8 . Responses of participants for evaluation of the time spent on each module of the short course.

Efficiency of Instructors

The next set of questions in the survey was aimed at revealing any flaws in the style and structure of the instruction. It was found that the majority of the class was satisfied with the teaching style and delivery of the modules by instructors (28 positive responses out of 33 responses in total; Figure 9 ). One participant noted that it would be useful to have solutions for each exercise, mainly for the ones related to the group activity. The answers could not be compiled for each activity as they varied by the group and the amount of material covered in each case. A few participants would like to have more one-to-one communications with instructors, but it might not always possible, given the size of the class and time allocated for each activity. It is foreseen that the class size will be reduced to have more time assisting each participant in all activities, even though the majority of participants (31 out of 33; Figure 9 ) felt supported during the course.

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FIGURE 9 . Responses of participants for evaluation of the instructors’ delivery of the short course.

The survey showed that instructors were knowledgeable (32 positive responses out of 33 responses in total) and well-prepared (30 positive responses out of 34 responses in total) for the course, which fulfilled the course objective of sustainable learning and communication through tangible models. It is confirmed that 3D printing promoted the curiosity among the learners and facilitated an interest in creation of a model simultaneously with the instructor. Developing creative potential entailed improving a problem-based approach to demonstrate theoretical concepts that could be accessible by different groups of participants. This short course demonstrated that diverse groups were able to assimilate, apply, and describe new knowledge more effectively, including collaborative and individual learning. There is a need in studying how these methods can complement traditional instruction in terms of retention of material and motivating learners to study and develop their communication and problem-solving skills.

Efficiency of Learning Objectives

The course learning objectives were evaluated during interactive exercises of the course as well as post-course questionnaire. After completion of each module, participants were asked to complete the same set of three questions based on the course objectives. Their responses were averaged using Likert scale, where more positive responses were approaching 5 and less positive responses were approaching 1 ( Table 2 ). Participants were scoring how each of the three objectives was fulfilled when they completed modules subsequently. It was evident that more confidence was gained toward the end of the short course when all three course objectives were assessed (increasing scores from Module 1 to Module 5 in Table 2 ). While not all participants had geoscience background, collaborative learning is proven to be effective in enhancing creativity and hence enabling a large class to adopt the new technology. Post-course questionaries demonstrated that faculty, students, research fellows, and technicians could effectively work in teams to understand basic concepts of 3D printing techniques and material properties. They used this information to provide an assessment of 3D-printed models and to generate ideas for research in their respective disciplines.

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TABLE 2 . Comparison of student responses on fulfilling the course learning objectives.

Individual CAD modeling exercise (module 2) helped the participants understand how geological and engineering models could be designed and utilized to explain ideas and concepts to generalist audiences. In module 5, instructors provided an example of 3D-printed porous rock created from a digital model ( Figure 10 ). All participants were asked to use this workflow to characterize how the rock porosity could have been formed and to explain why the rock grains had angular or rounded geometry and how they were transported to form a larger formation. Participants with a geoscience background were assessing responses of participants that did not have any background in the geoscience. It was noted that comparison of images, 3D digital models, and 3D-printed samples altogether provided better understanding of the rock properties rather than each model separately. Also. participants with good technical background in CAD within the team could help teaching other teammates, providing additional peer learning element in the process.

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FIGURE 10 . Workflow for generation of 3D-printed samples from digital models. Source data are either optical or CT images of natural rocks (e.g., Berea sandstone). Images are segmented into pores and grains; the grain volume is transferred to 3D printing software as a CAD model. Selected 3D printer creates a tangible model layer-by-layer (polymer in this example). Pore space is filled with support material (soft polymer) that is removed by post-processing.

Module 5 was very useful for synthesizing previous modules and providing exercises linking CAD modeling from module 2 with 3D printing methods presented in module 1 and materials observed in modules 3 and 4. Participants were asked to choose one model for which both CAD and 3D-printed models were available ( Figure 11 ). Their task was to prepare a 1-min presentation of the model intended for general audience. The exercise was aimed at evaluating if 3D-printed models could improve geoscience learning for non-specialists. This collaborative learning approach demonstrated that expertise from students with different backgrounds could contribute to the cognitive process. Instead of learning under the instructions of tutors, participants collaboratively worked and learnt together. Participants noted that those teammates without geoscience background provided more intuitive and comprehensive description of selected models. It might be due to the fact that specialists could not often formulate higher-level explanation of concepts and phenomena.

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FIGURE 11 . Examples of 3D-printed models used in course exercises. (A) Fossil and rock specimens. (B) Geomorphology and porous models.

Post-course questionnaire showed that 3D printing was an efficient tool in teaching and communication geological data and hypotheses to many types of diverse audiences. This study proved that non-specialists could learn, understand, and explain scientific concepts without prior knowledge about them. This finding is important because 3D printing can be used in many university curricula where students with any background can learn sciences in any environment. In particular, tangible aspect of 3D-printed models is vital for the geoscience education where most of the data are in a 3D format. Future development of the short course will involve several examples of non-geoscience data (e.g., engineering, medicine) to challenge participants in interpretation of concepts that are far beyond their expertise. This approach will help identifying if 3D-printed models are useful in communicating more complex phenomena to non-specialist audience.

3D printing is an emerging technology in the geoscience that provides additional teaching support, enhances technical communication using visual aids, and enables repeatable experimentation in research. While the process of incorporating this technology into the regular curriculum in academic institutions may take years, short courses can help this process by improving student and faculty engagement and by developing skills for a more qualitative knowledge acquisition. The short course presented in this study was useful for a diverse group of participants including professors, students, postdoctoral fellows, and technicians from the geoscience and engineering disciplines, because it allowed them to communicate geological concepts using digital models and their tangible counterparts. Participants demonstrated that this technology allowed them having the capacity for modification and sharing digital data and supporting educators who wanted to produce teaching models without prior expertise and in a rapid manner.

While this one-day short course had five modules, participants acknowledged that the time spent on each module was adequate as the modules contained the right amount of instructions and activities. It was designed in a way that participants would create their digital model, learn about different 3D printing techniques, observe how these techniques worked live and how 3D-printed models were experimented with in the laboratory, and finally 3D print their own model and discuss its properties. It was noted by the participants that course materials, such as e-booklet and slides with instructions, helped them digesting technical information in a cohesive way.

The main objectives of the short course was fulfilled, because the majority of participants responded that they would start using 3D printing for their research, teaching, or communication. Moreover, many participants had an interest in taking an advanced short course on the applications of this technology in their respective disciplines and to recommend this short course to others. Each module can certainly be modified and adjusted according to the background of the audience. This short course can be a primer for educators willing to introduce creative modeling in their teaching schedule and prepare students for problem-solving skills using tangible models. Making testable analogs of natural phenomena for the geoscience researchers is critical and can be achieved through acquiring CAD modeling skills in this course. Besides creating visual and teaching aids, this technology is a powerful tool in communication, as shown in the short course, because the participants with diverse academic backgrounds could discuss ideas and concepts without prior knowledge about them, only using 3D-printed models.

Data Availability Statement

The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.

Ethics Statement

Written informed consent was obtained from the relevant individuals for the publication of any potentially identifiable images or data included in this article.

Author Contributions

SI was the primary designer of the short course contents and the paper outline. He presented a poster at 2019 American Geophysical Union Conference on that study. SI developed exercises for the short course and prepared introduction and methods sections. KH developed presentation slides for the short course and wrote sections on results and discussion. RC was responsible for the introduction and conclusions. Figures were collected and analyzed by all authors. GZ-N was responsible for the lab tours.

The course was partially funded by MIP-CONACYT-280097 Grant, Mexico and NSERC 549236, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The funds covered the costs of 3D-printed models for participants of the short course.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the University of Alberta and Faculty of Engineering for the opportunity to host this short course on campus. Our special gratitude is to the Elko Engineering Garage for providing a demonstration tour and 3D printing the short course models. We are grateful to the Reservoir Geomechanics Research Group [RG] 2 for support in preparation of this course. We also thank NSERC for support in continuous running of GeoPRINT GeoInnovation Environment at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Assante, D., Cennamo, G. M., and Placidi, L. (2020). “3D Printing in Education: an European Prospective,” in Proceedings from the IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON) . Porto: Portugal , 1133–1138.

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Keywords: 3D printing, learning aid, visualization, reservoir, porous rock, geomodeling, fossils, geomorphology

Citation: Ishutov S, Hodder K, Chalaturnyk R and Zambrano-Narvaez G (2021) A 3D printing Short Course: A Case Study for Applications in the Geoscience Teaching and Communication for Specialists and Non-experts. Front. Earth Sci. 9:601530. doi: 10.3389/feart.2021.601530

Received: 01 September 2020; Accepted: 13 May 2021; Published: 28 May 2021.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2021 Ishutov, Hodder, Chalaturnyk and Zambrano-Narvaez. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Sergey Ishutov, [email protected]

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3D Printing in Geology and Geophysics: A New World of Opportunities in Research, Outreach, and Education

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3D Printing in Construction: 6 Examples and Case Studies

Hadi PourMohammadi

Exclusive  Neuroject Article: Over the past decade, 3D printing has become a buzzword, and for good reason. Although 3D printing in Construction was first created with the goal of product development, it has evolved to the point where it has emerged as a major player in a number of industries, such as the construction industry.

3D printing in Construction is a new technology that replaces some manual work with a machine that builds and assembles structures. This can be a more cost-effective, convenient, and ecologically friendly method of creating new structures. Understanding the advantages of 3D printing in Construction might help you evaluate whether the technology will help you expedite operations and boost client satisfaction.

The purpose of this article is to learn about 3D printing in Construction and review 6 case studies

Table of Contents

What is a 3D Printed Building?

A building that is made utilizing additive manufacturing processes, more specifically 3D printing in Construction, is referred to as a 3D printed building, 3D printed structure, or 3D printed construction. In order to create the structural elements of a structure, materials, usually concrete or other kinds of construction-grade materials, are deposited one layer at a time.

Large-scale 3D printers that can extrude the building material in a regulated manner in accordance with a pre-programmed design are often used in the process of 3D printing buildings. The material is deposited layer by layer as the printer builds the structure according to a digital model or design of the construction.

3D printing in Construction, also known as additive manufacturing, has emerged as a transformative technology in various industries, including the construction sector. Here are some reasons why 3D printing in Construction is important:

Speed and Efficiency : 3D printing in Construction makes construction operations quicker and more effective. The building of complicated structures using 3D printing can be done quickly and in a fraction of the time it would take to use traditional construction methods. Construction schedules can be greatly shortened as a result, and productivity can rise.

Cost Reductions : 3D printing in Construction can result in cost savings by automating the construction process. It decreases the need for physical labor, cuts down on waste, and maximizes resource use. Furthermore, on-site construction of structures using 3D printing can be done to save on shipping expenses associated with using prefabricated components.

Design Freedom : 3D printing in Construction offers immense design flexibility. It allows architects and engineers to create intricate and customized designs that would be challenging or impossible to achieve with traditional construction methods. This technology enables the construction of complex geometries, organic shapes, and unique architectural features

Sustainability : It’s becoming more and more vital to use sustainable construction methods, and 3D printing in Construction can help with that. Reducing construction waste, utilizing less energy, and using eco-friendly materials are all achievable with 3D printing. The careful management of material use also contributes to maximizing resource efficiency.

Customization & Adaptability : With the aid of 3D printing in Construction, it is now simpler to alter structures to meet particular needs. When building in distant or difficult regions or in areas subject to natural disasters, this level of adaptability is very beneficial. Rapid prototype and iterative design procedures are made possible by 3D printing in Construction, simplifying necessary alterations and advancements.

In conclusion, 3D printing in Construction has the potential to completely transform the construction sector by providing cost-effective, sustainable, and personalized construction solutions while also introducing novel techniques and streamlining processes. Technology’s influence on construction will probably get even more profound as it develops.

1. Tecla House

Architects : MCA Architects

City : Ravenna, Italy

Project Year : 2021

Photographer : Iago Corazza ©

3D_printing_in_Construction_Tecla_Neuroject.jpg

Tecla House, Printed in Massa Lombarda, Italy, Tecla is a combination of the words technology and clay and inspired by the historical cities of Italy and to create a link between the past and today’s technology, the home was designed by Mario Cucinella Architects and constructed and engineered by Wasp using clay sourced from a nearby riverbed.

The Building, is formed of two connected dome-shaped volumes with a ribbed outer wall that is made up of 350 stacked layers of 3D-printed clay. The clay layers are arranged in wavy layers that provide structural stability and a thermal barrier.

The prototype was built utilizing a multilayer, modular 3D printer with two synchronized arms, each with a 50-square-meter printing surface capable of manufacturing components at the same time.

According to the constructing team, employing this technique, housing modules may be produced in 200 hours while consuming an average of six kilowatts of energy and reducing typical construction waste almost totally.

Tecla is comprised up of two continuous parts that combine to form two circular skylights that emit “zenith light” through the use of a sinuous and uninterrupted sine curve.

The unusual shape of Tecla, including its complex geometry and external ridges, is a testament to 3D printing’s capability of balancing intricate design and structural stability

Inside, Tecla includes a combined living room and kitchen, as well as a sleeping area with amenities, spanning an area of about 60 square meters. The furnishings, partially 3D printed from local soil, are designed to be recyclable or reusable, fitting into the raw-earth building, in line with the core values of this circular house model.

Tecla was developed as part of an eco-sustainability research study that looked to bioclimatic principles and vernacular architecture and construction to produce low-carbon homes, and that shows a beautiful, healthy, and sustainable home can be built by a machine, giving the essential information to the local raw material.

2. House Zero

Architects : Lake Flato Architects

Built by : ICON

City : Austin. Texas

Project Year : 2022

Photographer : Casey Dunn ©

3D_printing_in_Construction_HouseZero_Neuroject

The “House Zero” idea, created by Texas-based Lake | Flato Architects, was unveiled by construction technology company I CON. It is the first project in ICON’s “Exploration Series,” which aims to “shift the paradigm of homebuilding” by highlighting the architectural possibilities made possible by additive manufacturing and creating new design languages. The house’s material honesty blends the expressiveness of robotic construction methods with the textures of natural wood to create a timeless design.

The home is sited in a single-family residential neighbourhood in East Austin, Texas, and was built using ICON’s Vulcan construction system.

The technique uses 3D printing that mechanically dispenses material layers according to a computer program, to build the 2,000 square foot (186 square meter) house’s walls. Ten days were needed to print the 3D-printed wall components.

The walls are reinforced with steel and covered with a special material ICON calls Lavacrete, which resembles cement and increases insulation while being airtight.

According to Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of ICON, “House Zero is ground zero for the emergence of entirely new design languages and architectural vernaculars that will use robotic construction to deliver the things we need from our housing: comfort, beauty, dignity, sustainability, attainability, and hope.”

ICON claims that the home was constructed utilizing biophilic design principles and that “naturalistic circulation routes throughout the home” are created by the smooth curves of the 3D-printed support walls.

In addition to being able to build houses faster, the technology could mean that homes like this could be built at lower cost.

3. 3D Printed Two Story House

Created by : Kamp C

Built by : COBOD

City : Austin, Texas

Photographers : Kamp C © & Jasmien Smets ©

3D_printing_in_TwoStoryHouse_Neuroject.jpg

Belgian company Kamp C has 3D-printed  with europe’s biggest 3D-printer  an entire two-story house. featuring 90 square meters, the house was printed in one piece with a fixed printer, making it a world’s first.

According to Kamp C project manager Emiel Ascione, “what makes this house so unique is that we printed it with a fixed 3D concrete printer.”

The two-story 3D-printed house is three times more durable than a house made of lightweight building blocks. According to Marijke Aerts, project manager at kamp C, “the compressive strength of the material is three times higher than the classic rapid building block.” It will be examined whether the solidity will be maintained over time in this first house, which is a test structure.

There was very little shrinkage reinforcement required, except from the fibers already present in the concrete. Concrete formwork is unnecessary because to the printing technology. The amount of time, money, and material saved is reportedly 60% as a result. In the future, a house might, for instance, be printed in just two days. The house at Kamp C will be printed in little under three weeks if all the printing days are added up.

The European C3PO project, which seeks to hasten the use of 3D printing in Construction in Flanders, Belgium, made it possible to construct the current home.

According to the company, 3D printing in Construction could aid architects in avoiding blunders.

The utilization of BIM technology is required when using the print process, according to Aerts.

In a sense, you build your house up front during the design stage. Numerous potential blunders can be avoided, she continued.

“Many potential expenses can be avoided. Once you have a nice design, it is fairly simple to adjust some of the parameters.

4. Milestone Project

Architects : Houben & Van Mierlo Architects

City : Eindhoven, Netherlands

Photographer : Bart Van Overbeeke  ©

3D_printing_in_Construction_Milestone_Neuroject.jpg

The first 3D printing in Construction in the Netherlands was given to its residents on April 30, 2021. The Eindhoven home, the first of five built as part of the “Milestone Project,” complies in full with all applicable building regulations.

The one-story structure has 94 square meters of floor space, which includes a living room and two bedrooms. Its shape is modeled after a sizable boulder, which blends in well with the surrounding environment and exemplifies the design flexibility provided by 3D concrete printing. The house is incredibly cozy and energy-efficient, with an energy performance coefficient of 0.25, thanks to extra-thick insulation and a connection to the heating network.

The home’s design, which was inspired by the shape of a rock, was created by Dutch architects Houben & Van Mierlo.

It was built by printing layers of stacked concrete to create 24 distinct components, and it has outside walls that are curved and slanted.

These components were produced at a nearby printing facility and sent to the construction site where they were put together, secured to a foundation, and outfitted with a roof, windows, and doors.

According to Weber Benelux CEO Bas Huysmans, “we’ve taken important steps in this project toward the further development of 3D concrete printing in construction” with the printing of insulated and self-supporting wall parts that are curved in three dimensions.

The goal of Project Milestone, a partnership between the Eindhoven University of Technology and a number of building experts, is to learn from it in order to advance the manufacture of 3D-printed dwellings, And also reducing the cost of building houses by using 3D printing in Construction.

5. Urban Cabin

Architects : DUS Architects 

City : Amsterdam, Netherlands

Project Year : 2016

Photographers : Ossip van Duivenbode ©, Sophia van den Hoek ©, DUS Architects ©

3D_printing_in_Construction_UrbanCabin_Neuroject.jpg

In Amsterdam, the Dutch architectural firm DUS Architects 3D printed an eight-square-meter cabin with a bathroom and is now inviting guests to spend the night.

A former industrial area in Amsterdam is transformed by the 3D printed Urban Cabin into a cozy urban hideaway complete with pocket park and outdoor bathtub. The structure is a study of small, environmentally friendly housing options for urban settings. It can be completely recycled and 3D printed again in the upcoming years because it is totally made of bio-plastic.

The architecture plays with the relationships between interior and outdoor areas to create luxury with a minimum footprint. It is entirely 3D printed from bio-based material in a dark tint, showcasing various façade ornaments, form-optimization methods, and resource-efficient insulating techniques.

The Urban Cabin is a component of DUS architects’ 3D Print Living Lab. Another step has been taken toward creating sustainable, adaptable, and on-demand housing options for the world’s rapidly expanding cities utilizing internal 3D printing technology.

Overall, the house is 8 square meters by 25 square meters. Inside, there is a mini-porch and a room with a sofa that can be used as a twin bed. the urban cabin is open for short stays and comfortably houses a place of refuge along the canal.

The idea also represents a step forward in the development of tiny, temporary homes for constrained sites and disaster-prone areas. The material can be destroyed after use and then reprinted with a different pattern.

6. House 1.0

Architects : SAGA Space Architects

City : Holstebro, Denmark

The first 3D printed concrete tiny house in Europe, House 1.0, was been unveiled by the Danish 3D printing business 3DCP Group.

The concrete apartment, which is situated in Holstebro, Denmark, was constructed in association with Saga Space Architects and modular 3D construction printer business COBOD.

By fitting all necessary utilities into just 37 square meters, the building is intended to be as inexpensive as possible. The aim of the overall endeavor is to build better, faster, greener, and to reduce the amount of strenuous work in the construction process.

The house was created as a joint venture between the Danish firms 3DCP and Saga Space Architects. It is made up of triangular sections organized in a circular pattern and joined by an open center core. There is a bathroom, an open kitchen, a living area, and a bedroom in the compact home. The bedroom was placed on a mezzanine level above the bathroom to conserve space. The roof has been raised in order to do this.

Using a large-format construction 3D printer from COBOD, the entire structure – ncluding its roofs and foundations – is made of solid concrete at a reasonable cost. As a nod to Nordic construction customs, its interior is distinguished by warm wood.

3D printing in Construction is the next major advancement in the building sector, claims 3DCP. You may already be familiar with the conventional plastic 3D printers that you may use in your hobby room at home. The idea is the same; however, our printer is enormously larger.

explains the Danish corporation. “We use the printer to lay the concrete, layer by layer, minimizing waste and the overall material consumption while allowing a fusion of many processes and workflows, all of which contribute to the construction moving along quickly and efficiently.”

The Future of 3D Printing in Construction and Its Impact

The future of 3D printing in Construction holds great potential and is expected to have a significant impact on the industry. 3D printing in Construction, also known as additive manufacturing, involves the creation of three-dimensional objects by depositing material layer by layer. When applied to construction, this technology has the ability to revolutionize the way buildings and structures are designed and built. Key aspects of the future of 3D printing in Construction and its impact include faster and cost-effective construction, design freedom and customization, sustainability and reduced environmental impact, and eco-friendly and recyclable materials. 3D printing in Construction has the potential to improve structural performance, reduce transportation and carbon emissions, and integrate functional elements into the printed components.

It can be utilized both on-site and off-site in construction projects, and can be particularly beneficial for construction projects in challenging environments. However, there are still challenges to overcome before 3D printing in Construction becomes mainstream in the construction industry, such as regulatory hurdles, scalability of the technology, material development, and the need for standardized processes. However, with ongoing research and development, it is expected that the future of 3D printing in Construction will continue to evolve and have a transformative impact on the industry.

Design Buildings | Autodesk

For the projects:

Tecla House: dezeen | archdaily | designboom

Zero House: dezeen | designboom

Two Story House: dezeen | archdaily | designboom

House 1.0: designboom

Milestone Project: dezeen | designboom

For the main picture: freepik

case study for 3d printing

Hadi PourMohammadi

Content creator of Neuroject

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Case studies and resources

APPLICATION TYPE

SPECIALIZATION

RESOURCE TYPE

CASE STUDY | EDSER

EDSER ramps up production of customized orthotic devices

CASE STUDY | CAMPETELLA ROBOTIC CENTER

HP Multi Jet Fusion helps Campetella Robotic Center reduce cost and lead time

CASE STUDY | GOPROTO

GoProto ventures into new markets with HP 3D HR TPA enabled by Evonik

CASE STUDY | PRENSILIA & ELASTICO DISEGNO

Bringing functionality and aesthetics to robotic prosthetics

CASE STUDY | GOPROTO & ROPES EDGE

Producing high-quality parts and streamlining manufacturing

CASE STUDY | UBI MAIOR

Lightweight, customized parts with complex geometries for boats and yachts

CASE STUDY | HEYGEARS

More comfortable, more versatile orthotics

CASE STUDY | DUNDON MOTORSPORTS

Fast-tracking production of auto racing parts

CASE STUDY | CHABLOZ ORTHOPÉDIE

Leveraging HP 3D Printing to improve treatment of cranial deformities

CASE STUDY | ORTHO-TEAM

HP 3D Printing as an innovation partner for future growth

CASE STUDY | AERECO

Eliminating outsourcing by adopting HP Multi Jet Fusion technology

Optimizing entire 3D printing process

CASE STUDY | HP

Achieving industrial-level OEE numbers

HP 3D Printing supports APCC’s high-volume production of packaging

CASE STUDY | VAN RAAM

Achieving efficient short-run production of bicycle parts

CASE STUDY | CUPRA

HP 3D Printing helps CUPRA launch Léon Competición racecar

CASE STUDY | ACTIVARMOR

ActivArmor fashions customized orthotic devices

CASE STUDY | EXTOL

Extol leverages polypropylene and HP MJF to help customers decrease time to market

CASE STUDY | MATERIALISE & AVULAR

Customized, on-demand parts for drones

WHITE PAPER

How 3D printing can optimize insole production

CASE STUDY | WEERG

Pushing the limits with HP 3D Printing

How many parts and which machine makes sense?

How can additive manufacturing improve product development?

HP Multi Jet Fusion technology: From metals to plastic

How can additive manufacturing complement injection molding?

Advanced topics in design for automotive additive manufacturing

Design and process optimization

Transforming digital design and manufacturing

Tooling jigs and fixtures for automotive product development

10 design tips you need to know

CASE STUDY | TRIPLE EIGHT RACE ENGINEERING

Accelerating production while decreasing costs

CASE STUDY | SMILE DIRECT CLUB

Delivering straighter smiles to millions

CASE STUDY | SKORPION ENGINEERING

Redesigning and customizing motorbike parts

CASE STUDY | SINTHESI ENGINEERING

Design freedom and short-run production capabilities

CASE STUDY | MEIDAI

Faster production and opportunities for customization

How 3D printing can improve a 3D printer

CASE STUDY | HORIZONS OPTICAL

End-to-end solution for customized eyewear

CASE STUDY | HAVATEC

Improving and accelerating production

CASE STUDY | GLAZE PROSTHETICS

Quickly producing prosthetics tailored to individual needs

CASE STUDY | EVEREX

Less-expensive medical devices at faster speeds

CASE STUDY | BREEZM

Ramping up production of custom-designed eyewear

CASE STUDY | BIOTECH DENTAL

Reducing the costs of implant molds

CASE STUDY | FAST RADIUS

Reaching a new level of innovation

Transforming prosthetics and orthotics

The guide to design optimization

CASE STUDY | VOLKSWAGEN

Mass customization and manufacturing acceleration

CASE STUDY | PARMATECH

Disrupting metal parts production

CASE STUDY | OT4

Producing complex designs to improve patients’ lives

Designing orthoses for patients' needs

Improving patients' lives with flexible orthoses

CASE STUDY | NIVELLMEDICAL

Reinventing dental aligner production

CASE STUDY | MOTORSPIRIT

Design freedom to achieve more and perform better

CASE STUDY | LANGHORNE CARPET

Applying 21st-century technology to 20th-century devices

Transforming the spare parts supply chain

CASE STUDY | GKN

Reaching production at scale

CASE STUDY | DUSTRAM

Lowering costs, accelerating production, and building strong parts

CASE STUDY | CRISPIN

Making cosmetic, lightweight, and affordable orthotics

CASE STUDY | BIOTEC

Electromedical parts faster, better, and more affordably

CASE STUDY | PROSFIT

HP Multi Jet Fusion helps reinvent the prosthetics industry

CASE STUDY | MECHATRONIC

Building better parts at a lower cost

CASE STUDY | INVENT MEDICAL

HP Multi Jet Fusion helps customize orthotic footwear

Improved medical outcomes with HP Multi Jet Fusion

CASE STUDY | HULOTECH

Customizing prosthetic parts with HP Multi Jet Fusion

CASE STUDY | FDM DIGITAL SOLUTIONS

Helping enhance performance in the aerospace industry

CASE STUDY | EURECAT EBM

HP Multi Jet Fusion helps automotive industry save costs

CASE STUDY | DI LABS

HP Multi Jet Fusion improves pipe-cutting process in manufacturing

CASE STUDY | CNC-AUTOMATION WÜRFEL

HP Multi Jet Fusion leads to faster, more agile production

HP Multi Jet Fusion saves time and costs when producing tooling applications.

CASE STUDY | BOWMAN

HP Multi Jet Fusion helps produce better-performing bearing cages

Design optimization and easier assembly from HP Multi Jet Fusion

HP leverages its own technology to create final parts

CASE STUDY | ARCESSO DYNAMICS

Reducing costs and time in molds production

CASE STUDY | AEROSPORT

3D printing rudder trim system helps reduce number of parts

Creating  jigs and fixtures, prototypes, and final parts with HP  MJF

CASE STUDY | OPTIMUS 3D

Better orthotics customized to patients

CASE STUDY | MOTOR l'ESCALA

Custom 3D printed car parts for motorsports team

HP MJF technology helps facilitate assembly in HP build units

Improving air flow performance

Simplifying parts assembly

Enhancing performance of air manifolds

Improving manufacturing of fixtures

CASE STUDY | HELI RACING

Simplifying production of race car manifolds

CASE STUDY | ED LIGHTING

Easier manufacturing and custom-designed furniture

CASE STUDY | CAF

HP Multi Jet Fusion helps strengthen train door structures

CASE STUDY | BAREL

HP Multi Jet Fusion leads to lightweight part production

Faster manufacturing process

CASE STUDY | AUREA AVIONICS

Accelerating production for the intelligence industry

CASE STUDY | ADDIT-ION

Creating customizable furniture parts

CASE STUDY | SIGMADESIGN

Improving overall design and reducing costs

CASE STUDY | SHAPEWAYS

Growing the business with consumer applications

CASE STUDY | MATERIALISE

Moving from prototyping to end-part production

CASE STUDY | LOOKREAL

Taking personalization to a new level

CASE STUDY | KUPOL PROJECT

Reinventing sport headgear

CASE STUDY | JABIL

Staying competitive by speeding time to market

CASE STUDY | iORTHOTICS

iOrthotics finds a better way to match patients' feet, more quickly

CASE STUDY | IAM 3D HUB

Customized solutions easily

Excellent air tightness

Enabling design versatility and part optimization

Multiple advantages of using our own technology

Reducing time and cost

Time and cost savings

Making it easier to meet clients' needs

CASE STUDY | GIMATIC

More competitive in the fast-paced robotics industry

CASE STUDY | FORECAST 3D

Moving from short-run production to high-volume runs

CASE STUDY | FICEP S3

Accelerating production and improving productivity

CASE STUDY | BIESSE

Enabling more design freedom and faster time to market

How HP Multi Jet Fusion can complement CNC machining

Producing manufacturing aids

3D applications for manufacturers of machinery and production line equipment

Streamlining machinery and production lines

How to complement CNC production

Creating functional parts faster

CASE STUDY | CONDUCTIX WAMPFLER

Conductix improves time to market and simplifies product design with HP MJF

CASE STUDY | L´OREAL

L´Oreal quickly responds to shifts in its manufacturing processes  with HP MJF

CASE STUDY | YASOJIMA PROCEED

Yasojima Proceed produces battery and substrate cases for neurosurgery with HP MJF

Extol quickly delivers low-cost, lighter weight robotic tooling thanks to HP MJF

CASE STUDY | KOCH-PAC SYSTEME

Producing cost-efficient, customized and sustainable packaging machinery parts

Discover how HP Metal Jet technology works and all the details behind the process

Discover how HP Multi Jet Fusion technology works and all the details behind the process

3D printing with polypropylene - From prototypes to production parts

CASE STUDY | COBRA

Cobra turns to HP Metal Jet to create and adapt designs quicker and innovate faster

CASE STUDY | SCHNEIDER

Schneider Electric improves efficiency by mass producing 3D printed metal parts at scale

CASE STUDY | BRINTER®

HP MJF helps Brinter launch its innovative bioprinting solutions faster and more affordably

CASE STUDY | UNLIMITED TOMORROW

Through collaboration, Unlimited Tomorrow makes high-tech prosthetics more accessible

CASE STUDY | HOFFMANN

Hoffmann + Krippner revolutionizes production of small series for plastic enclosures 

CASE STUDY | CGX

CGX achieves a leaner supply chain and the ability to adapt to market demand with HP MJF

CASE STUDY | OPTIMA

HP 3D printing helps startup cost-effectively design and produce new medical device

CASE STUDY | FORERUNNER

Forerunner 3D develops innovative medical device for oxygen therapy patients

CASE STUDY | AMUFACTURE

HP MJF allows AMufacture to design and 3D print a light, watertight, complex manifold

CASE STUDY | UNION BINDING

Union Binding company make their ideas a reality with HP MJF technology

CASE STUDY | THINKTEC 3D

thinkTEC 3D uses HP 3D Printing for end-of-arm tooling designs

CASE STUDY | WAITKUS360ª

Waitkus360° adopts MJF technology to match high levels of flexibility with productivity

CASE STUDY | BMW Group

BMW Group relies on HP MJF for 3D printed keycaps

Competitive accelerated weathering study between HP 3D HR PA 12 W and SLS materials

Sterilization study of HP 3D High Reusability PA 12 W

CASE STUDY | MIGHTY OAK

Spinal surgery outcomes improve with new 3D printed models and tools

CASE STUDY | JOHNSON SCREENS

Johnson Screens increases cost efficiency through innovative 3D printing

CASE STUDY | JOHN DEERE

HP Metal Jet technology powers John Deere tractors

The potential of Metal Additive Manufacturing

CASE STUDY | SCULPTEO

Sculpteo streamlines 3D printing processes with HP 3D Automatic Unpacking Station 

CASE STUDY | 3Faktur

3Faktur automates post-processing workflow with HP 3D Automatic Unpacking Station

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Case studies on 3D printing in Education: Justifying the Investment

3d printing – justifying the investment, 3d printing benefits – beyond anecdotes.

  • Improving student performance: Studies on how 3D printing is improving students’ vital skills, for example, those required to excel in STEM subjects, are starting to appear. See Case Study #1 below for details.
  • Inspiring Future Careers: 3D printing can have a central role in a student’s career choice, particularly within STEM subjects. Through 3D printing, students experience the sense of achievement, interest and fun that a career in, let’s say, science or engineering can offer, areas they may not have otherwise considered. See Case Study #2 below for more details.
  • Preparing students for the future:  3D printing is now being used in a vast range of industries, including medicine and food, so students need to be knowledgeable and comfortable with it. However, 3D printing has a greater role to play in helping the next generation become excited and at ease with new technology. Whatever career path students choose to follow; the fact is being technologically proficient will be essential. See Case Study #3 below.
  • Encouraging altruism & business acumen:  Teaching our children about values is a hot topic for many parents and educators. Some schools and universities have used 3D printing to help children experience the joy of helping others, as well as developing potential business opportunities. See Case Study #4.

case study for 3d printing

3D Printing – relieving budgetary pressure

case study for 3d printing

Pay-to-print services

Case Study #1 In 2018, students from the University of Arkansas studied the effect of using 3D printing to improve spatial visualization of 6 th graders . For this study, students had to visualize the rotation of an object. They were asked to complete questions with and without the aid of 3D printed blocks. The study demonstrated an improvement across all five schools that participated, ranging from a 7% improvement to a 16% improvement, when using the 3D printed blocks. The research also provided evidence that students retained their new visualization skills and were able to complete the questions more successfully following the experiment, without the need of the blocks.

Case Study #2 Winning the Information Science Technology Challenge convinced three students from Columbia College, New Zealand to pursue their interest in engineering. The students won the challenge for their business plan, producing low-cost prosthetic limbs using a 3D printer. The panel of judges was so impressed with the students’ business plan that they recommended every hospital in New Zealand be equipped with a 3D printer. Production costs of making the prosthetic limbs were so low that patients could purchase them for just $10.

Case Study #3   Analyst Insight: According to   PwC, by 2020, 77% of all jobs will require some degree of technical skills. There’s a growing need for workers trained in STEM skills, but a shortage of graduates who have them. So, having an aptitude to adopt new technology and an understanding of how this can improve business performance will be essential for the next generation.

Case Study #4 Illinois High School used their 3D printer to provide a nine year old with a prosthetic hand that would have cost her parents $50,000. The school spent just $105 for a pair of the prosthetic, including materials.  

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As SLS 3D printing is getting more popular, we share our insights, tips, and tricks for you to use.

With a four-figure installation worldwide of Sinterit's 3D printers, here you can find some of our client's stories.

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Case Studies

Our customers stories with the 3D printer in the background

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Sinterit SLS 3D printing in SAE Aero Design

The SLS 3D printing technology from Sinterit was one of the components of the success that the SAE Aero Design Student Association from Warsaw University of Technology achieved in prestigious competitions in the United States.

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Maurice Briggs

Director at lazerthrust.

Sinterit LISA is the most accessible means to produce precise constraint-free solutions to modern problems. The technology does what it says on the tin and the team at Sinterit is dedicated to working with their customers to achieve their objectives.

case study for 3d printing

Joshua Rosen

Eca medical.

One of the main benefits of SLS is the ability to print complex geometry in quick succession to do rapid prototyping.

case study for 3d printing

Lluís Llenas

The FFF and SLA parts are a good choice to get a physical impression of the designs and to assemble rough prototypes. But when it comes to producing reliable prototypes to be verified in our fatigue tests or to send functional samples to our customers for validation, SLS is the only acceptable choice.

case study for 3d printing

Sean Higgins

Nabson inc..

In order to keep up with our production demand, we have been operating the Lisa PRO almost 7 days a week for the past couple of months, without incident, and produced over 1500 sleeves.

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  3. Case Study: Using 3D printing for architecture projects

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  4. 3D printing technology in construction- A trend of the future

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  5. The business case for 3D printing: A collaborate community

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  6. Top 3D Printing Case Studies

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    “3D printing overcomes technical barriers for students. What used to be strenuous to produce by traditional methods can now be done with the press of a button.

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    Center for Advanced Design. This product development firm has saved lots of time with a Stratasys F370 3D printer. Thanks to its minimal setup, fast draft mode

  10. A case study on 3D chocolate printing

    Citation: Li, P., Mellor, S, Griffin, J, Waelde, C, Hao, L and Everson, R, (2014) 'Intellectual property and 3D printing: a case study on 3D chocolate

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    Results from the analyses were implemented in modelling an idealised low-rise cob building covering a range of floor spans and wall heights. The analytical

  12. HP 3D Printing Case Studies and Resources

    Find out how companies across different industries are creating real-world 3D applications with HP Multi Jet Fusion technology.

  13. Case studies on 3D printing in Education: Justifying the Investment

    3D Printing – justifying the investment. Most schools would agree that 3D printing encourages the active engagement of students which helps them to retain

  14. 3D printing uses

    The SLS 3D printing technology from Sinterit was one of the components of the success that the SAE Aero Design Student Association from Warsaw University of