School of Mines recreates world record hailstone using 3D printing

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The world’s largest recorded hailstone was found in Vivian, S.D. about ten years ago, and students at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology were able to recreate the stone using 3D printing technology.

The 3D Printing Club was able to take measurements of the original hailstone and input the data into a computer. Next, the 3D printer was able to do the rest, creating a nearly identical model that had the volume and weight of the original hailstone.

“The National Weather Service has put calculations using the size just by diameter, and the mass of the hailstone to see how much air would have to be forced up and what rate. But with this, we have the right size, the right mass, the right geometry, we can just throw this into a wind tunnel and find that actual value,” said Per Lundquist, member of the SDSM&T 3D Printing Club.

The hailstone model weighs just under two pounds.

So far, it’s been calculated that a thunderstorm with wind speeds around 180 mph is needed to carry a hailstone that size in an updraft.

The 3D Printing Club says that the uses for 3D printing has become diverse, and they have proved their practicality in recent years.

“I think a lot of people are going to have a 3D printer in the next five years,” says Duncan Mcgonagle, President of the SDSM&T 3D Printing Club. “Even in the past five years, I started around five years ago, so many people have gotten into printing now because its just become cheaper and cheaper, and the printers have become more reliable. If you have a little bit of knowledge, and a little bit of creativity, you can save yourself a lot of money, and its pretty cool too.”

If you’re looking to learn more about 3D printing or even have a specific request for the 3D Printing Club, you can send them an email at



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