Mineral Exploration

Fall 2014

Mineral Exploration is the official publication of the Association of Mineral Exploration British Columbia.

Issue link: http://digital.canadawide.com/i/370216

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Page 15 of 31

16 F A L L 2 0 1 4 Photographs : CGG ; S eabridge Gold T he world of printing has finally caught up with the real world – and if the dis- plays at the PDAC conven- tion in Toronto this year were anything to go by, 3D printing is finding its way in the mineral exploration industry. 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has been around since the 1980s and is essentially the creation of a three- dimensional object by laying down successive layers of material under the control of a computer. These materials are commonly plastic but can be metal, clay, sugar and even living cells. The uses of 3D printing seem limited only by the human imagination. Already, high-tech engineering firms are using 3D printing for the rapid creation of proto- type parts – many auto racing teams such as those in the technological bleeding- edge Formula One series now employ 3D printers rather than model makers to create parts for wind tunnel testing. The additive manufacturing process has also opened the possibility of creating com- ponents whose geometries are simply too complex for traditional machining or fabrication techniques. Although sig- nificant application to human medicine may be a few years off, enterprising and innovative animal rescue workers have already employed 3D printing to craft prosthetic legs for injured ducks. One project that has dominated headlines is the infamous Liberator, the world's first operational 3D-printed gun. International geoscience company CGG has already recognized the poten- tial of 3D printing as a rapid and cost- effective way to produce detailed 3D Earth models. These printed 3D Earth models offer a novel way of integrating all the geophysical and geological data available with respect to a target area for hydrocarbon or mineral exploration to highlight the distribution of prospec- tive lithologies. As Reece van Buren, chief geophysicist with CGG Airborne, explains, "The advent of 3D print tech- nology has really opened up new possi- bilities for us to literally 'show' our clients the power of geophysics for imaging what cannot be seen in the Earth's subsurface. We call it 'your basin/target in a box,' now available across our range of geo- physical solutions. It's a fantastic medium that's accessible to all and offers a whole new visual and tactile experience." Van Buren adds, "Not only do we display these printed 3D Earth models on our booths at tradeshows to attract attention, we're also distributing them to clients when they might assist their exploration discussions or negotiations. It really is a 'wow' moment when a geolo- gist picks up their target, literally in the Exploring in 3D 3D PRINTING TECHNOLOGY IS PUTTING EXPLORATION TARGETS IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND By LiBBy Sharman This printed 3D Earth model was derived from data interpreted by CGG after recording a survey in Namibia with its Tempest fixed-wing time-domain electromagnetic (FTEM) system for the Geological Survey of Namibia. Conversation piece and useful tool: One of Seabridge Gold's 3D models of the KSM project.

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