Acta Mechanica Sinica

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 101–111 | Cite as

Modeling rock specimens through 3D printing: Tentative experiments and prospects

  • Quan JiangEmail author
  • Xiating Feng
  • Lvbo Song
  • Yahua Gong
  • Hong Zheng
  • Jie Cui
Research Paper


Current developments in 3D printing (3DP) technology provide the opportunity to produce rock-like specimens and geotechnical models through additive manufacturing, that is, from a file viewed with a computer to a real object. This study investigated the serviceability of 3DP products as substitutes for rock specimens and rock-type materials in experimental analysis of deformation and failure in the laboratory. These experiments were performed on two types of materials as follows: (1) compressive experiments on printed sand-powder specimens in different shapes and structures, including intact cylinders, cylinders with small holes, and cuboids with pre-existing cracks, and (2) compressive and shearing experiments on printed polylactic acid cylinders and molded shearing blocks. These tentative tests for 3DP technology have exposed its advantages in producing complicated specimens with special external forms and internal structures, the mechanical similarity of its product to rock-type material in terms of deformation and failure, and its precision in mapping shapes from the original body to the trial sample (such as a natural rock joint). These experiments and analyses also successfully demonstrate the potential and prospects of 3DP technology to assist in the deformation and failure analysis of rock-type materials, as well as in the simulation of similar material modeling experiments.


Rock mechanics Similar material 3D printing Geotechnical model Deformation and failure 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants 41172284 and 51379202).


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Society of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics; Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Quan Jiang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xiating Feng
    • 1
  • Lvbo Song
    • 1
  • Yahua Gong
    • 1
  • Hong Zheng
    • 1
  • Jie Cui
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Geomechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, Institute of Rock and Soil MechanicsChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanChina

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