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A new 3D-printing technique may let scientists study rocks of places like Mars, without needing to have actual samples in hand.
The method is quite a combination of two techniques: remote 3D imaging and 3D printing. Scientists may use the new method to turn it into physical options of digitally scanned rocks that are either too delicate to handle or too complex to achieve in man.
“Geophysicists may already digitally scan rocks, so I thought to myself ‘Why not print them, too?’”
“You may use 3D-printed digital rock options to assist screen and nominate the many scientifically informative samples to return to planet Earth for research,” says Tiziana Vanorio, an assistant professor of geophysics at Stanford University’s School of planet Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences. “Our study provides a initially step in that direction.”
For now, yet, 3D printing may assist scientists advantageous know how changes to a rock’s microscopic structure affects its large-scale, or “bulk,” properties, such as porosity and permeability. These characteristics can reveal intimate details of the rocks, such as the physical processes that created them, or how fluids such as oil or water move through them, that may inform additional efficient extraction techniques.
“The advent of modern 3D printing provides an unprecedented opportunity to link the micro- and macro-scales by combining the strengths of both digital and laboratory experiments,” Vanorio says. “3D printing allows for us to digitally manipulate changes at the pore scale and and so print the rock at the scale that is suitable-bodied for laboratory tests.”Dulcie Head loads a tray of resin into the 3D printing device. (Credit: L.A. Cicero)Scientists have utilized 3D printing on rocks preceding, but manyly as a means of enlarging the tiny structural details in rock interiors to manufacture them simpler to visualize.
“No one else has done what we did, that is digitally modify parts of a effortless rock microstructure and and so physically measure in a laboratory how those changes affect fluid flow in the rock,” says Dulcie Head, a doctoral candidate in Vanorio’s lab.
Inspired by ballet shoes
Vanorio says she got the thought to print rocks in 3D after purchasing a pair of customized ballerina shoes a few years ago.
“The company utilized a digital scanner to determine the precise dimensions and shape of your feet and and so 3D-printed shoes that fit you like a glove,” Vanorio says. “Geophysicists may already digitally scan rocks, so I thought to myself ‘Why not print them, too?’”
In a new study, to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Head and Vanorio tested whether current 3D printing devices were up to the task of re-creating the microscopic channels and hollows in a tiny carbonate rock sample that had been digitally imaged via a CAT scanner.
You can 3D print these free scans of complete
The pair tested two various 3D printing devices: a high-end commercial option costing a few thousand dollars and an industrial option that cost of ten times additional. Both printing devices layered light-sensitive resin that is and so hardened via ultraviolet light, but the industrial option had a higher printing device resolution and utilized a wax-assisted innovation to enhance the rendering of tiny pore spaces.
They showed it was possible to manipulate the digital option of the rock sample and and so print the altered option in 3D. The research may for the initially time allow scientists to directly link changes in a rock’s microstructure to its bulk properties such as porosity and permeability.
“A important problem for geophysicists who want to know rock properties is that our samples are not effortlessly comparable-bodied,” Head says. “You can take two rock cores of right upcoming to equite other that have quite much like bulk properties, but when you appear at them under a microscope, their pore structures can be completely various. By manipulating a thing that we mayn’t manipulate preceding, 3D printing allows for us to know the role of those tiny differences in the pore structure.”
Vanorio and Head are optimistic that as 3D-printing innovation improves, scientists can be able-bodied to return it into finer details of rock structures and actually be able-bodied to mix various materials together to advantageous replicate the diverse minerals that manufacture up rocks.
“There are already printing devices that work with glass, metal, and ceramics,” Head says. “All of those are emergent technologies, but we are hopeful that we can be able-bodied to experiment with other materials in the future.”
Source: Stanford University
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