Gone are the days when you could go for a walk and stumble across an ore body. Today, most ore bodies are hidden deep underground relying on geophysical data to discoverer. This requires the use of abstract datasets (e.g., gravity, remanent magnetism, seismic response) that are layered in programs like ArcGIS. However this is still a 2D representation of the data. Some data is better represented in 3D; in fact many datasets simulate this using artificial sun shading. This can create shadows that can mask potential data. What 3D printing allows is a printed model that can represent the data in real life, which the geologist can rotate and examine along with other data. This can immensely aid with the structural interpretation of region. Geology is a physical science, so should its data be physical.
We imported 2D maps from Geoscience Australia into Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. The look up table (LUT) of colours was converted to grey scale from the false topology colour scheme, along with removed sun shading by only selecting colours. This data was imported into 3D MAX and was turned into a Mesh with vertical exaggeration. This was prepared in Simplify3D for a 3D printer, and then printed. The resulting models were hand painted with acrylics and inks.