Until recently, the custom manufacture of equipment for laboratory or field experiments in soil science required appreciable know-how, and was extremely time-consuming. Technological advances in rapid prototyping and “3-D printing” in the last decade afford significant, and as yet untapped, opportunities to manufacture equipment in a very different way. In the present note, we demonstrate with two concrete examples that 3-D printing is not only a very effective and versatile technique to produce laboratory or field equipment. It also alleviates some of the restrictive technical constraints imposed by lathes and molding processes used traditionally, and it permits a much more efficient sharing of information among researchers. Given the tremendous advances in 3-D printing unfolding at the moment, it is anticipated that this technology will revolutionize the way we design, and especially replicate, experiments in soil science.
Rangel, D. P., Superak, C., Bielschowsky, M., Farris, K., Falconer, R. E., & Baveye, P. C. (2013). Rapid prototyping and 3-D printing of experimental equipment in soil science research. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 77(1), 54-59. https://doi.org/10.2136/sssaj2012.0196n