Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.

On September 2nd 2021, the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) unveiled what it claimed were the first ever 3D printed stellar nurseries. (A stellar nursery is an area within a nebula where gas and dust contract, resulting in the formation of stars.) UCSC astrophysicist Nia Imara and her collaborators created the nurseries using data from simulations of star-forming clouds, as well as a 3D printing process where the clouds’ physical properties were represented by droplets of an opaque resin deposited within a transparent resin. The team also made some 3D printed hemispheres that would show a view of the nurseries’ cross section. Their work was described in a paper published in the journal The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Imara collaborated with John Forbes of the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics and James Weaver of Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Forbes helped Imara develop a suite of 9 simulations that would represent different physical conditions within molecular clouds, Weaver helped turn the data from the simulations into the 3D printed nurseries. This resulted in spheres measuring 8cm in diameter where the star-forming material showed as swirling clumps and filaments. The simulations the models were based on were designed to investigate the effects of turbulence, gravity and magnetic fields, all of which contribute to the evolution of molecular clouds. By changing different variables like magnetic field strength and the speed of the gas, the simulations show how different environments affect the geometry of star formation-related structures.

Weaver hopes that future versions of the nurseries would incorporate additional information by using different colours to increase their scientific value. The team are also interested in investigating 3D printing’s potential use in representing observational data from nearby molecular clouds, such as from the constellation Orion. Imara hopes that the nurseries will also serve as useful tools for education and public outreach.

3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.

Disclaimer: Featured image of “Van Gogh – Starry Night – Google Art Project” is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer.