Jeff Hemsley from Syracuse University explains how to create solid models of social networks using the statistical package R and a 3D printer.
3D node-link diagrams have been explored for a while due to their potential benefits. One is that any node-link diagram can be laid out in 3D without any link crossing. Some studies have also shown that in some cases 3D node-link diagrams are easier to read than 2D ones. However, 3D visualizations are generally hard to navigate and to perceive on regular screens, so researchers have progressively lost interest. Digital fabrication and reconfigurable materials may revive them.
Source: Jeff Hemsley (2013) The MakeR way: Using R to reify social media data via 3d printing.