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 21st 2018, some computer scientists at MIT’s CSAIL unveiled a partly 3D printed robotic fish that can swim in the ocean alongside real fish, controlled via a waterproofed Super Nintendo Entertainment System controller by a diver who can be up to 70ft (21.3m) away. (MIT is refers to the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology, CSAIL refers to its Computer Science And Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.) Their work was published in the journal Science Robotics. Named SoFi, during test dives at the Rainbow Reef in Fiji, it swam at depths of more than 50ft underwater for up to 40 minutes at a time. (The photographs and videos it took were unsurprisingly done with a fisheye lens.)

MIT argues that previous autonomous underwater vehicles had usually been tethered to boats or powered by propellers via a much less simple set up than SoFi has. In contrast, they argue that SoFi has a significantly simpler and lighter setup, with a single camera, motor and the same sort of lithium-ion polymer battery found in smartphones. SoFi swims via a motor pumping water into 2 balloon-like chambers in its tail, which operate like pistons in an engine. This causes its tail to flex in alternating directions, mimicking the motion of an actual fish’s tail.

The team plan to improve SoFi via an upgraded pump system to make it swim faster and refine the design of its head and tail. In addition, they intend to soon use SoFi’s on-board camera to have it follow real fish automatically, as well as building more SoFis to help with the study how fish respond to changes in their environment.

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 “Shiei Riding a Carp over the Sea LACMA M.84.31.354” is in the public domain as it has been released by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with its “Public Domain High Resolution Image Available” mark. LACMA is unaware of any current copyright restrictions on content so designated, either because (i) the term of copyright has expired, (ii) no evidence has been found that copyright restrictions apply, or (iii) because LACMA owns copyright but would like to share this content with the public without exercising control as part of its mission to engage and educate its communities. LACMA does not warrant that the sharing of this content will not infringe upon the rights of third parties holding rights to these works.