Research group 3D Innovation

The research group 3D Innovation @ Stellenbosch University 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 background information:

Prof. Anton Du Plessis is an Associate Professor at Stellenbosch University, South Africa and is also affiliated with Nelson Mandela University, South Africa. He is an experienced scholar in the field of additive manufacturing, with specific interests in quality control and process optimization, X-ray tomography and biomimicry applied to additive manufacturing. His interests and expertise range across a wide range of disciplines in the field, and he is an associate editor of the leading journal in the field, Elsevier’s Additive Manufacturing journal.

Research areas

My research is focused on Additive Manufacturing, X-ray tomography and Biomimicry. 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.

My latest book:


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
NTNU Norway

and the following industrial partners:
CSIR, Aeroswift, Altair, LRS implants, Executive Engineering


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 yourself. We have positions from time to time which I will advertise here. 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.

I am thankful to the South African Department of Science and Innovation for funding two projects for 2021 through the Collaborative Program in Additive Manufacturing (CPAM).


I am open to the following:

  • collaborative research projects
  • supervising post-graduate students
  • lecturing selected courses
  • contract work / consultation
  • advisory roles


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.

Additional information

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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