Research group 3D Innovation

The research group 3D Innovation @ Stellenbosch University (3DI for short) was established in 2019, with the aim to advance research in all aspects of 3D technologies, particularly additive manufacturing (3D printing) and X-ray tomography (3D scanning), with a dash of biomimicry often involved. This research group is headed by Prof Anton du Plessis who also manages the CT scan facility. This group falls under Physics in the Faculty of Science. The group is also associated with the newly established Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBE) at Stellenbosch University.

For CT scan services (routine jobs), please see the Stellenbosch CT facility website .

Group leader information:

I am on the editorial board of the Elsevier journal Additive Manufacturing – I am passionate about pushing the frontiers of this technology for high-end applications (way beyond prototyping).

I am on the editorial board of the journal Scientific African – I am excited about the potential for African science, as the proverb goes “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”.

My research is focused on Additive Manufacturing, X-ray tomography and Biomimicry. Specific interests in these domains and current research goals are highlighted below, please see recent publications (on publications tab above) for more information (I try to put all papers here and on researchgate where possible) or contact me directly. I gladly collaborate and do contract research in areas overlapping strongly in these areas of expertise. We have current collaborations with the following academic groups

Central University of Technology
University Antwerp
Nelson Mandela University
University of Pretoria
Karlstad University
University di Milano

and the following industrial partners:
CSIR, Aeroswift, Altair

If you are a student looking for a masters or doctoral position in my group, I am happy to support but you need to find funding. We have positions from time to time which I will advertise here. We have very soon a masters position for a project which is funded through the NRF SA-Wallonia exchange program – more details to follow soon! Also see my expectations and the working requirements Lab Member Contract du Plessis

If you are a researcher looking to collaborate, I am open to collaboration and I am especially in favour of combined applications for funding. All forms of funding are welcome, it keeps the research moving forward. Donations are also welcome in increments of US$100 000.


Background info about our research:

Additive manufacturing and specifically laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) has reached a level of maturity where critical parts for aerospace and medical applications are being produced commercially. In this field I work on three aspects

  • Quality control & structural integrity: I work on new testing methods and improvements in processes which allow higher quality parts to be produced, pushing the adoption of additive manufacturing. It is critical to understand the effect of various defect types to improve part quality and mechanical performance
  • Lattice structures & topology optimization: My aim here is to advance the use of lattices and topology optimization in practical applications.

X-ray tomography is an emerging materials analysis tool, which may be used in a wide variety of academic and industrial projects to image internal details of objects non-destructively. I push the frontiers of this technology for new applications, new methodologies and am especially interested in image based simulations.

Biomimicry or bio-inspiration can allow unique new materials designs based on nature’s lessons learned over millions of years of evolution. I focus on natural structures and attempt to learn “design rules” which can be applied to practical engineering applications.


Right now I am happy to announce that I will be hosting a special track “Biomimicry in AM” at the annual RAPDASA conference – the full first call and information on the special track is found here: RAPDASA 2019 – Announcment + 1st Call for Papers (brochure)

Please submit your work in any aspect of biomimetic engineering in additive manufacturing! Watch this space for invited speakers and more information!


I am academically associated with the Stellenbosch University Physics Department as Associate Professor, and also collaborate with various local and international groups.

My research work is supported by the Collaborative Program in Additive Manufacturing (CPAM) – I am very thankful for this support. Here is a 3D model of the CPAM logo for free download – designed in Altair Inspire and mesh simplified in VGSTUDIO MAX – click cpam highly simplified add stl extension to download 6 Mb STL file.

Please check my publications for more information: publications


Google Scholar Citations profile:


For more information on Additive Manufacturing, including annual global market report, see here:

Also see the RAPDASA 2018 conference proceedings here:

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