By Aad van de Wijngaart

can change your life. That is certainly the case for assistant professor Jouke Verlinden. On the evening of Tuesday 25 November, he will be speaking on ‘the pleasure of printing things’, as part of the 3D Print Week. Below, he gives a hint of what it means.

What has changed for Verlinden as a result of 3D printing? “I derive pleasure from it, both at work and at home. For example, I can now print a basic scale-model of a car very easily, onto which I can project windows, doors, and wheels using a projector. I then draw them ‘in real-time’ on the computer. The advantage is that this method allows you to obtain a realistic 3D image very easily, which you can then quickly modify.”

And at home? “I also have a 3D printer at home. It’s next to the dryer, because it makes just as much noise. I have used it to make musical instruments, among other things, for a Playmobil string quartet. Unique in the world!”

However, Verlinden is much prouder of the work by 250 PhD students and minor students, who he has now supervised in advanced prototyping. The results have sometimes been spectacular. One example was that of a project in which students had to design and print variations of a saxophone mouthpiece. After making a CT scan of an original mouthpiece, they started experimenting with the help of a PhD aerospace engineering student, who not only knew all about air turbulence, but was also able to test the models on his own saxophone.

The project was so successful that professional saxophonist Peter Broekhuizen actually thought that the two printed models produced a better sound than the original. Not a bad result for a minor project of just five weeks!

Why should others at TU Delft get involved with 3D printing? Verlinden replies, “3D printing and other digital production techniques like laser cutting have two important advantages. First, high-end engineering: you can do things with it that would otherwise be almost impossible, in a reproducible manner.

And second, they are accessible to everyone. You can get started using inexpensive printers or printing services like i.materialise. And it can be done anywhere, whether you are in Afghanistan, at the South Pole, or in the ISS.

On Tuesday evening, Verlinden will reveal much more about 3D printing. It will not be a regular lecture, but a Human Library meeting; these are normally only open to PhD students.

See the programme of the 3D Print Week for more information about this and other activities. For the whole of this week, the Library will be highlighting the theme of 3D printing, with workshops, demonstrations, lectures, and an exhibition.