3D Printing for Physics Education
Professor Josh Grossman and Abigail Taylor (SMCM class of 2013) have explored the use of 3D printing in physics education. We concentrated on one example -- printing manipulatives of representations of the spherical harmonics. The spherical harmonics are the angular solutions to Laplace's equation. They occur throughout physics, perhaps most familiarly in determining the angular wavefunction of electron orbitals in atoms. Descriptions of the shapes were programmed in Mathematica. The shapes were then exported as STL files for printing. We used two types of printing: fused deposition modeling (extrusion) and selective laser sintering (binding of granular material).
Presentation from Spring 2014 meeting of the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers