3D Printing and Digital Rock Physics for the Geosciences

Monday, 15 December 2014: 5:45 PM
Mario J Martinez1, Hongkyu Yoon2 and Thomas A Dewers1, (1)Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, United States, (2)Sandia National Lab, Albuquerque, NM, United States
Imaging techniques for the analysis of porous structures have revolutionized our ability to quantitatively characterize geomaterials. For example, digital representations of rock from CT images and physics modeling based on these pore structures provide the opportunity to further advance our quantitative understanding of fluid flow, geomechanics, and geochemistry, and the emergence of coupled behaviors. Additive manufacturing, commonly known as 3D printing, has revolutionized production of custom parts, to the point where parts might be cheaper to print than to make by traditional means in a plant and ship. Some key benefits of additive manufacturing include short lead times, complex shapes, parts on demand, zero required inventory and less material waste. Even subtractive processing, such as milling and etching, may be economized by additive manufacturing. For the geosciences, recent advances in 3D printing technology may be co-opted to print reproducible porous structures derived from CT-imaging of actual rocks for experimental testing. The use of 3D printed microstructure allows us to surmount typical problems associated with sample-to-sample heterogeneity that plague rock physics testing and to test material response independent from pore-structure variability. Together, imaging, digital rocks and 3D printing potentially enables a new workflow for understanding coupled geophysical processes in a real, but well-defined setting circumventing typical issues associated with reproducibility, enabling full characterization and thus connection of physical phenomena to structure. In this talk we will discuss the possibilities that the marriage of these technologies can bring to geosciences, including examples from our current research initiatives in developing constitutive laws for transport and geomechanics via digital rock physics.

Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000.