Marine scientists have a good reason for needing the best in tagging technology. Large fish species like tuna and sharks are at risk of extinction from overfishing, and we're in a race to learn more about them to help conserve them. That's where CSIRO, 3D printing, and the Ocean Tracks project comes in to play.
The technology company is working on creating better tracking tags using 3D printing, which will create tags quickly and cheaply.
According to CSIRO, "The tags are printed overnight and then shipped to Tasmania where marine scientists are trialing them. Tags are made of titanium for several reasons: the metal is strong, resists the salty corrosiveness of the marine environment, and is biocompatible (non-toxic to living tissues). One of the advantages of 3D printing is that it enables rapid manufacture of multiple design variations which can then be tested simultaneously."
Researchers can find out what works best, make needed changes, and perfect their tools at a rapid-fire pace thanks to the print-on-demand capabilities of 3D printing.
The research is a partnership including CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research and other agencies, which are working together to learn more about various marine species and their behavior. The Ocean Tracks website keeps tabs on progress. Here, you can view the tracks of tagged fish as well as see 3D animations of them.
It's amazing to see the ways 3D printing has already helped science, from lowering the cost of lab supplies to now tracking marine species for science.