Fracture network created by 3-D printer and its validation using CT images

Anna Suzuki, Noriaki Watanabe, Kewen Li, Roland N. Horne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding flow mechanisms in fractured media is essential for geoscientific research and geological development industries. This study used 3-D printed fracture networks in order to control the properties of fracture distributions inside the sample. The accuracy and appropriateness of creating samples by the 3-D printer was investigated by using a X-ray CT scanner. The CT scan images suggest that the 3-D printer is able to reproduce complex three-dimensional spatial distributions of fracture networks. Use of hexane after printing was found to be an effective way to remove wax for the posttreatment. Local permeability was obtained by the cubic law and used to calculate the global mean. The experimental value of the permeability was between the arithmetic and geometric means of the numerical results, which is consistent with conventional studies. This methodology based on 3-D printed fracture networks can help validate existing flow modeling and numerical methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6330-6339
Number of pages10
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jul


  • 3-D printer
  • equivalent permeability
  • experiment
  • fracture network


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