Enthusiastic reactions from researchers
The 3D prints we produced yielded the following insights:
- The prints have more detail than expected.
- In the case of research data with complex surfaces, the prints offer better insight into, and a better interpretation of the spatial structures compared to 2D/3D visualizations rendered on a screen.
- A high degree of detail in a 3D print is much more impressive than the same data on a screen.
The reactions of the researchers were therefore very enthusiastic.
Although 3D printing has been commercially available for some time now and prices are no longer prohibitive for small- to medium-sized scientific models, several challenges for regular application to scientific visualization remain. These mostly have to do with:
- the limitations in terms of colour palette
- the limitations in the amount of detail
- the effort needed to go from 3D dataset to printable 3D model.
All in all, 3D printing is a very interesting technique for applying to scientific visualisation. As 3D printed scientific models are still somewhat of a rarity in most fields, there’s room for futher application and discovery of the possibilities.