Tom Brewin, head of Design Technology and Leader of Creativity at CREATE Education Hub Chatham and Clarendon Grammar School in Ramsgate Kent, has been working on exciting 3D Printing projects.

chatham and clarendon grammar school

These projects have taken him all the way to India, where 3D printed devices made at the school with 6th form pupils have been used in the marine industry, universities and schools.

Last year, Tom and his brother Dr Robert Brewin published a scientific paper in a marine science journal ‘Sensors.’

This groundbreaking paper developed a link between design and science. Demonstrating how Ultimaker 3D printers are being used to create a scientific device, The Mini Secchi, for use in the field and solidify their success with data generated from the device.

The CREATE Education Team at CCGS 3D Printing Hub

Mini-Secchi is a pocket-sized, handheld device measuring the clarity and colour of lakes, estuarine and near-shore regions. The Original Secchi Disk, measuring the clarity of water and Forel Ule (FU) Colour Scale classifying the colour of natural water is simple, low-cost and offer historical continuity. However, it can be cumbersome to use.

Owing to the benefits of 3D Printing (also known as Additive Manufacturing)- the design and manufacture of custom-sized scientific instruments and standardising home-made instruments The Mini-Secchi was designed for Additive Manufacturing.

As part of an international scientific collaboration, REVIVAL with Plymouth Marine Laboratory, this 3D Printed device has enabled scientists to study and address water quality in a highly polluted lake.


Image credit to Rehabilitation of Vibrio-infested waters of Lake Vembanad, funded under the India-UK Water Quality programme (REVIVAL).

Lake Vembanad is the largest body of water in Kerala, India. 

The lake stretches 100km in length and spans an area of over 2000KM². Its shores are home to 1.6 million people, many of whom depend on the water for their livelihood, providing an income to the inhabitants through tourism, cottage industries, agriculture and fisheries.

However, the lake is heavily polluted and contains Vibrio. A deadly bacteria, associated with massive global epidemics, Cholera and lethal infections, Vibrio vulnificus. Vectors related to malaria, dengue and chikungunya are also present within the waters.

The communities living beside Vembanad do not always have access to safe drinking water.

REVIVAL- Rehabilitation of Vibrio-infested waters of Lake Vembanad, funded under the India-UK Water Quality Initiative of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in partnership with India’s Department of Science and Technology (DST), enables scientists to study and address water quality in the highly-polluted lake.


A simple, but effective tool, the Mini-Secchi Disc, has been developed by CREATE Education Hub leader Tom Brewin under this project, to monitor water clarity.

mini secchi

Mini- Secchi Disk

mini secchi

3D Printed Mini-Secchi Disk ready to be used

100 of these devices were 3D printed and a total of 3300 parts were assembled, packaged and sent to Kerala India, where they have been used to create marine optical data sets. For the Mini Secchi Disc REVIVAL used the Ultimaker 2 and 2+ printers, which they found to be “very reliable and robust at a relatively low-cost.” Ultimaker Cura’s open-source 3D printing software offered them a complete integrated workflow. The settings were tailored to print more than one part at a time. Cura is continually updating its software – Download Cura 4.8. In the latest version, the improved arrange models feature, colours objects that are below the build plate, with improvements to load project file, enabling you to enhance your print preparation. Ultimaker regularly updates and constantly improves features and printing experience. Ultimaker has now introduced the Ultimaker 2+ Connect, a robust single extrusion 3D printer now with a seamless digital workflow, the next evolution of the timeless Ultimaker 2. 

3D printing in the curriculum CPD, Ultimaker 2+ Connect

Ultimaker 2+ Connect

The REVIVAL team studied the links between lake organisms and the diseases, the environmental conditions that allow pathogens to survive and spread, how their abundance changes by season, and how they can infect the communities living on the lake’s shores.  A range of techniques will be employed, with data collected from the field, by instruments on satellites in Earth’s orbit, and via miniature drones that will enable recordings even in dangerous, inaccessible areas, with modelling being used to formulate effective plans to minimise risk to the local population.


Citizen science will also have a role to play, allowing local communities to get involved by contributing their own monitoring of the water quality using inexpensive equipment. The citizen scientists will be informed on how their work will aid understanding the dynamics of the lake’s waters and contribute to rehabilitation efforts.

The Mini-Secchi has been implemented in the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Universities and Secondary Schools.

Now playing a small part in the MONOCLE Project with the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, developing research and technology for sustainable in situ observation solutions for Earth Observation of optical water quality in inland and transitional waters.

CREATE Education would like to thank Tom Brewin for sharing the success of this project.

Get in touch with our education advisors today

Call: 01257 276 116

Book a meeting

Chris Harrison Education Specialist
Welcome, visitor. Files are available to download with this content. Please sign up to Download. Sign up or Login

This content was contributed by