Fish Tags Made with 3D Printer

Written by on February 11, 2013 in Technology
The latest design is more streamlined--you can also see the texture of the tag.

The latest design is more streamlined–you can also see the texture of the tag. Image courtesy of CSIRO.

Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are using a new generation of hi-tech fish tags made in their own lab with a 3D printer.

The new tags are made of titanium because it is a strong, non-toxic metal capable of resisting the salty corrosiveness of the ocean. They are printed in Melbourne in a process that takes less than a night, and then shipped to Tasmania where CSIRO scientists are currently testing them. Without the 3D printing technology, new tags would have taken months to design, manufacture and receive. This way, changes can be made immediately.

“Using our Arcam 3D printing machine, we’ve been able to re-design and make a series of modified tags within a week,” says John Barnes, who leads CSIRO’s research in titanium technologies. “When our marine science colleagues asked us to help build a better fish tag, we were able to send them new prototypes before their next trip to sea.”

“Our early trials showed that the textured surface worked well in improving retention of the tag, but we need to fine-tune the design of the tag tip to make sure that it pierces the fish skin as easily as possible,” Barnes explained.

“A streamlined tag that easily penetrates the fish’s skin, but has improved longevity because it integrates with muscle and cartilage, would be of great interest to our colleagues conducting tagging programs across the world,” said CSIRO marine researcher, Russell Bradford.

To learn more:

White Marlin. Researchers will use the new tags to track bigger fish like marlin, swordfish and tuna.

White Marlin. Researchers will use the new tags to track bigger fish like marlin, swordfish and tuna. Photo credit: Ken Neill, NOAA.

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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