April 2020: Update and sneak peek

Hi All – sorry for the hiatus, a lot has happened in personal life since starting this blog and my challenges of printing all the space groups/zeolite topologies have been delayed slightly!

I am delighted to say however that there is now progress! I have started a new(ish – been there since October) job at UCL and will be getting a SLA printer as soon as I can to carry on with the space group challenge. I will also be carrying on with the zeolite challenge (biweekly) and will be starting a new ‘Curiosity corner’ (weekly) where I share the stories and images of some of the weird and wonderful materials I’ve collected over the years.. Watch this space!

Stay safe in these strange and uncertain times, B.



Hello and welcome!

Join me down the rabbit hole of crystallography and 3D printing.. On this journey we will discover beauty, frustration and symmetry as I attempt to document 3D printing every single space group in crystallography (the science all about the structure of crystals).

I and my trusty Snapmaker (https://snapmaker.com/) will attempt to make these space groups come alive in the medium of polylactic acid (PLA).

It is going to be tough.

I’m not a hundred percent sure I can do it and I am such a beginner at 3D printing that I can already imagine nozzle blockages (painful), spaghetti monsters (basically when the print decides it no longer wants to be stuck to the build plate but the faithful printer just keeps going!) and nightmares about CAD (computer aided design).

So why am I doing this?

I love 3D printing, I love crystals, they are meant to be together. I spent nearly four years of my life growing, hunting for and shining intense beams of light at crystals, trying to unlock their secrets. Part of that is attempting to visualise how each atom within a crystal relates to each other. Delightfully they are usually related by some form of symmetry and that leads us to our space groups.

What will you get out of this dear reader?

My pain, failures, successes for you all to share. Oh and every .stl file I produce for you to print yourself. Hopefully we will both learn something, hopefully it will be fun and most of all I hope you leave this site wanting more.

This project would not have even been conceived without the incredible success of Frank Hoffmann, Barbara Mayer, Lois Johnson, Daniel Wyllie Lacerda Rodrigues, and Vladimir Vasiliev collating all 230 space groups over at https://crystalsymmetry.wordpress.com/230-2/ – I will be using their collected .cifs (imaginatively named ‘crystallographic information files’) as the basis for my prints. All credit to them, and the original authors of the papers their .cifs come from.

See you on the other side..