Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.

On March 20th 2020, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory of Tennessee (ORNL) unveiled its project to make model fish from 3D printed molds to help measure the environmental impact of hydroelectric dams. They argue that when fish pass through hydroelectric dams, they encounter obstacles that can injure them, including fluid pressure changes, turbulence and turbines’ spinning blades. The ORNL proclaim that they have a long history of supporting hydropower, including improving the licensing and regulatory process.

To 3D print molds for representations of various species of fish, the researchers turned to the ORNL’s objectively unimaginatively named Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, having them laser-scan some actual fish to help create some 3D printable molds designed via computer-aided design. The model fish were made from a mixture of ballistic gel and cinnamon oil coated in a plastic-like paint to mimic their skin and scales. Sensors embedded in the model fish measure their acceleration, as well as how they stretch or contract as a result of simulated impacts from turbine blades. The scientists hope that this will help establish how hydropower sites can be made more friendly to fish. In addition, they argue that every hydropower dam project being different presents an opportunity for more work, due to them being built for the site’s geography and customer’s needs.

Previous examples of 3D printed model fish include scientists at the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology experimenting with 3D printed robotic fish for studying marine life in March 2018. As another example, in June of the same year researchers at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering experimented with using 3D printed robotic fish to guide real fish away from hazardous environments like oil spills.

3D printing is an amazing tool. It can grow your small business or start a mini revolution in an industry. Explore what it can do for you when you contact us today.

Disclaimer: Featured image of “Big Fish Eat Little Fish 1557” is in the public domain as it is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or less. It is also in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1925.