Research group 3D Innovation

The research group 3D Innovation is an active research group in Stellenbosch University based at the Physics Department but working across all faculties and externally. The group has 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, and is multi-disciplinary with main efforts in engineering. 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 As a research group, we gladly collaborate but outside the scope of paid “routine” services.

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. He is deputy editor at the new sister journal Additive Manufacturing Letters, focusing on high impact, fast publication, short format papers in Additive Manufacturing. He also holds associate editor / topical editor / subject editor positions at the following journals: Scientific African (Elsevier); Material Design and Processing Communications (Wiley); Research in Nondestructive Evaluation (ASNT); and he is on the editorial board of 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing (Mary Anne Liebert).

He currently holds formal adjunct academic positions as research affiliate at Nelson Mandela University, Faculty of Engineering and as visiting professor at Central University of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering. He was a previous fellow of the Stellenbosch Insitute for Advanced Study (STIAS).

Research areas

The group’s research is focused on Additive Manufacturing, X-ray tomography and Biomimicry. Please see recent publications (on publications tab above) for more technical 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
University of Texas at El Paso

and the following industrial partners:
CSIR, Aeroswift, Altair, LRS implants, Executive Engineering, Rapid3D


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, check the NRF for bursary applications. 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
  • adjunct academic and science leadership positions

Background info about our research

Here some more information on the topics and areas of interest in our group

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 we work on these 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:

Comments are closed.