Shark skin is quite rough yet allows rapid swimming, for those of you who haven’t been up close with the notorious fish, but now the nature of the skin has been duplicated with 3D printing.
Researchers at Harvard University spent a year analyzing and duplicating shark skin at a microscopic level. It turns out the skin is actually composed of numerous “denticles” that act in an aerodynamic fashion, much like golf ball dimples.
By developing detailed 3D models of the denticles from 3D scans, the researchers were able to print hundreds of the 0.15mm objects in an interlocking pattern, thus recreating the shark skin.
Testing demonstrated a decent improvement in water performance: a paddle coated with the pseudo-shark skin managed a 5.9% reduction in effort for the same results.
We believe this approach could be a frequent use of 3D scanning and printing, as nature evolved untold numbers of similar microscopic solutions to a variety of problems.
Now we only need to find them and duplicate them with 3D printing. s