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Exploring Shark Skin Through 3D Printing
By Angela Messina, May 14, 2014 @ 03:15 PM (EST)
Source: BBC Science and Environment

Scientists have successfully created artificial shark skin using 3D printing in order to study how it improves sharks’ swimming capabilities.

Shark skin is covered in tiny teeth-like structures called “denticles,” which allow sharks to swim faster and more efficiently than if their skin were smooth. Engineers have tried to reproduce this effect in swimsuits and racecars, but 3D printing technology has allowed scientists to mimic shark skin better than ever before.

The process took over a year to complete and required two different materials to mimic both the hardness of the denticles and the flexible base they attach to. When attached to a paddle and tested in water, the material produced a 6.6% increase in speed and required 5.9% less energy. These figures are not insignificant when considered over the course of a shark’s entire lifetime.

Read more here.

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