High-tech titanium tags to help track big fish

Sydney, Feb 7 (IANS) Scientists are building a new generation of hi-tech titanium tags to help track big sea fish such as sharks, marlin and swordfish for longer periods.

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).

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) scientists are using 3D printing to build these new generation of fish tags.

One of the advantages of 3D printing is that it enables rapid manufacture of multiple design variations which can then be tested simultaneously.

"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," he adds, according to a CSIRO statement.

CSIRO's 3D printing facility prints metal items layer by layer out of fused metal powder. Had the scientists been using conventional tags which are machined out of metal blocks, it would have taken a couple of months to design, manufacture and receive the new designs for testing.

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