3-D PRINTING AS TOOL FOR TEACHING CRYSTALLOGRAPHY
This project workflow starts in CINEMA 4D, a 3-D modelling and animation software platform that allows users to position scaled polyhedral elements (in this case, spheres for ions, cylinders for bonds, and platonic objects for coordination polyhedra) to x,y,z coordinates based on a combination of Pauling’s Rules, XRD-derived bond lengths, and simple trigonometry. Other software applications (like CrystalMaker) can use inputs from crystallographic databases to produce similar printed results; however, while this would reduce the students’ time required considerably, it would also drastically limit the educational utility of the project. The ProJet 260C (3D Systems, Inc.) printer used in this project uses a 64 color palette and high spatial resolution (0.004”) which allows students to design intricate structures that can be creatively colored. Practical considerations centered on developing printable models that were small enough to limit printing costs but large enough to be robust under delicate handling. Additional applications of 3-D printing in geoscience education discussed will include similar software-hardware workflows for visualizing/teaching concepts in hydrology and geomorphology using digital elevation models (arcMap) and inputs from digital photogrammetry (PhotoScan).