More than 100 presenters will share experiences and best practices at SPAR International 2012 in The Woodlands (Houston), Texas, April 15-18. A keynote by Phil Manning, head of the Palaeontology Research Group at the University of Manchester in the UK and adjunct associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania, will highlight how 3D imaging is being used to analyze the chemistry and morphology of fossils to unlock secrets from the distant past. Advances in this multidisciplinary field have the potential to achieve a global impact in disciplines beyond palaeontology.

Attendees will also hear about 3D printing from Abe Reichental, CEO of 3D Systems, a company that would like to see every household equipped with one or more 3D printers capable of churning out everything from plastic toys to works of art.

These applications seem to have little in common with the day-to-day workflow of surveying and mapping professionals. But Sam Pfeifle, editor of SPAR Point Group, says it’s not all “pie in the sky” technology. “We’re trying to focus this year on making sure that … it’s actually something people can use to make money and improve their business,” he explains.

Watch the video above to learn more about the practical side of 3D that will be emphasized at this year’s event. For more information and a complete schedule of presenters, demonstrations and roundtable discussions, visit