Alexander Blass achter de computer
3D printing

Understanding life a little better

The scientific value of 3D printing is underestimated, according to PhD student Alexander Blass. On behalf of the Physics of Fluids Group of the University of Twente, he participated in a study into 3D printing for scientific use. "With 3D printing, you can literally investigate your research from all angles. That is extremely 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

3D print of a turbulent flow

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


Alexander Blass grew up in Germany and dreamed of becoming a pilot. He studied Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Darmstadt, because he also liked the technical aspects of flying. "I still think it's fantastic. But things turned out differently when I also became fascinated by fluid dynamics during my Master’s degree. I won't become a pilot, but I am very happy to be doing what I am doing now: helping a little to understand life better."

The Chair of the Physics of Fluids Group is led by Detlef Lohse, and is part of the Max Planck Center for Complex Fluid Dynamics. In 2018, SURF presented a study into the use of 3D printing for scientific visualisation. The study was conducted in the context of the SURF Open Innovation Lab, in collaboration with various research partners, including the Physics of Fluids Group. Alexander Blass won the SURF Visualization Competition 2017 with a visualization of currents.

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