Alexander Blass achter de computer

Understanding life a little better

The scientific value of 3D printing is underestimated, believes PhD student Alexander Blass. He participated in a study of 3D printing for scientific use on behalf of the Physics of Fluids Group at the University of Twente. "You can use 3D printing to literally look at what you are researching from all sides. That is very valuable."


Flying is the most beautiful thing in the world, Alexander thinks. At least, that's what he thought when he was still at school. He now finds the dynamics of liquids and gases to be the most beautiful thing there is. "Almost everything revolves around the movement and structure of water and air, and how we can manipulate them. The only reason we humans can fly at all is because turbulence exists and we have figured out how to use it."


Alexander: "All day long, you are exposed to different kinds of liquid and gas movements: the water that flows out of the tap when you brush your teeth, the water you heat up to brew a boiling hot coffee; even if you do nothing but breathe, there is a constant movement of air. It is the foundation of all."

Alexander Blass met 3D-print


"You never really think about it, but today's life is also determined by the movement of water and air," he continues. "Even if it's just because these dynamics create good or bad weather. But we still don't know everything about how that happens. Printing turbulent flow in 3D - yes, that's possible - helps us to better understand exactly what is happening. And that leads us to new ideas and interesting discussions."

3D-print van een stroming

A 3D print of (turbulent) flows

"With 3D printing, you can literally investigate your research from all angles. That is extremely valuable."
Alexander Blass

Dream of becoming a pilot

Alexander Blass grew up in Germany and dreamed of becoming a pilot. He went on to study Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Darmstadt, as the technical aspects of flying also appealed to him. "I still love it. But things turned out differently when I became captivated by fluid dynamics during my master's. I will not become a pilot, but I am very happy to be doing what I am doing now: helping a little bit to understand life better."

The Chair Physics of Fluids Group is led by Detlef Lohse and is part of the Max Planck Center for Complex Fluid Dynamics. SURF conducted research in 2018 on the use of 3D printing for scientific visualisation as part of the SURF Open Innovation Lab. We did this in collaboration with several research partners, including the Physics of Fluids Group. Alexander Blass won the 2017 SURF Visualisation Competition with a visualisation of flow.

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