3DATAPRINT report: 3D printing for scientific visualization

Our research into the application of 3D printing in scientific visualizations shows that it offers a great many new possibilities. In this report, we present a number of our practical examples from various research areas. 

3D geprinte cel

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.