IOM3(HK) – TECHNICAL SEMINAR ON Applications of 3D Printing Method in Rock Mechanics (29 NOV 2016)

Hong Kong Branch
28 Apr 2017

On 29 November 2016, a technical Seminar about Applications of 3D Printing Method in Rock Mechanics organised by the IOM3 Hong Kong Branch was held. 30 participates were joined to this event.

Dr Jianbo Zhu shared in the seminar some applications of 3D printing (3DP) method in rock mechanics.  There are many difficulties of experimental study using natural rock samples, the heterogeneous natural of natural rock samples causing the experimental results not being repeatable, and these samples are expensive to harvest.

3DP has the advantages in overcoming these obstacles with natural rock samples for experiment, therefore it is currently an active area for research.  The research work presented by Dr Zhu was on identification of a suitable 3DP material for recreating the strength and brittleness comparative to natural rock material, so that investigations could be performed on “artificial” rock samples produced by 3DP to study the response and crack growth behaviours under static and dynamic tests.

Various 3DP methods and materials were tested, SLA-fabricated resin was the most suitable 3DP out of those tested by Dr Zhu in replicating the brittleness and strength.  Its brittleness can be further improved by freezing, the additions of macro-crack and micro-defects.

Natural rock samples were then analyzed using micro-CT scanning technology, and data was then feed into 3DP to artificially replicate rock with SLA-fabricated resin.  Under both static and dynamic tests, the strength and the failure mode agreed well between the natural and artificial rock samples.  Because the SLA 3DP technique can conveniently, repeatedly and precisely produce internal 3D flaws during printing, the SLA-fabricated resin was found suitable for studying 3D crack growth phenomenon in rock mechanics.  Dr. Zhu’s research work opens up big opportunities for future studies in rock mechanics using 3DP. 


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