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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 77 No. 1, p. 54-59
     
    Received: June 20, 2012
    Published: November 26, 2012


    * Corresponding author(s): baveyp@rpi.edu
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doi:10.2136/sssaj2012.0196n

Rapid Prototyping and 3-D Printing of Experimental Equipment in Soil Science Research

  1. David P. Rangela,
  2. Claire Superaka,
  3. Mayra Bielschowskyb,
  4. Katie Farrisc,
  5. Ruth E. Falconerd and
  6. Philippe C. Baveye *e
  1. a Soil and Water Engineering Laboratory Dep. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Jonsson Engineering Center, Troy, NY 12180
    b Environmental Engineering Program, Federal Univ. of Rio de Janeiro, Escola Politécnica Centro de Tecnologia UFRJ, Bloco D, sala 204, Cidade Universitária, 21941-972- Rio de Janeiro, RJ–Brazil
    c Soil and Water Engineering Laboratory, Dep. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Jonsson Engineering Center, Troy, NY 12180
    d SIMBIOS Centre, Abertay University, Kydd Building, 40 Bell Street, Dundee DD1 1HG, Scotland
    e Soil and Water Engineering Laboratory Dep. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Jonsson Engineering Center, Troy, NY 12180 and SIMBIOS Centre, Abertay University, Kydd Building, 40 Bell Street, Dundee DD1 1HG, Scotland

Abstract

Until recently, the custom manufacture of equipment for laboratory or field experiments in soil science required appreciable know-how, and was extremely time-consuming. Technological advances in rapid prototyping and “3-D printing” in the last decade afford significant, and as yet untapped, opportunities to manufacture equipment in a very different way. In the present note, we demonstrate with two concrete examples that 3-D printing is not only a very effective and versatile technique to produce laboratory or field equipment. It also alleviates some of the restrictive technical constraints imposed by lathes and molding processes used traditionally, and it permits a much more efficient sharing of information among researchers. Given the tremendous advances in 3-D printing unfolding at the moment, it is anticipated that this technology will revolutionize the way we design, and especially replicate, experiments in soil science.

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Copyright © 2013. Copyright © by the Soil Science Society of America, Inc.