Combining X-ray CT and 3D printing technology to produce microcosms with replicable, complex pore geometries
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Measurements in soils have been traditionally used to demonstrate that soil architecture is one of the key drivers of soil processes. Major advances in the use of X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) afford significant insight into the pore geometry of soils, but until recently no experimental techniques were available to reproduce this complexity in microcosms. This article describes a 3D additive manufacturing technology that can print physical structures with pore geometries reflecting those of soils. The process enables printing of replicated structures, and the printing materials are suitable to study fungal growth. This technology is argued to open up a wealth of opportunities for soil biological studies.
Otten, W., et al. 2012. Combining X-ray CT and 3D printing technology to produce microcosms with replicable, complex pore geometries. Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 51: pp.53-55. Available from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2012.04.008