3D Machining and Shark Attacks

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3D Machining and Shark Attacks - Monday, January 25, 2016

Here at Digital Machining Systems custom machine shop we know that CNC machining is a thrilling industry. But add sharks to the mix and you've got a recipe for excitement (and danger)!


No ... we don't have sharks in the shop. We're talking about a 3D machining-assisted underwater mission.

The beautiful (and BRAVE) minds over at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) decided to create a device specifically for filming sharks. Or, more accurately, for sharks to try to destroy. But luckily, they love building stuff...and they love sharks.


As part of its shark-studying project, WHOI created an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) (affectionately known as REMUS 100), and equipped it with their custom-made REMUS SharkCam. It's essentially the safest way to study one of nature's most efficient killing machines.


With the REMUS 100 and SharkCam, WHOI learned some valuable lessons... Like how sharks react to AUVs that invade their personal space and territory.

Spoiler alert—they attack it.


In a lucky tour of the WHOI facility, their senior machinist, Tim Smith, outlined the passion he has for this shark-meets-technology-and-machining project. Tim's contribution to the REMUS SharkCam included the 3D machining and surface milling of its nose piece (where the camera resides). When asked about how he felt about his intricate machining work being designed to be attacked by a great white, he modestly said, "that guy lost some teeth—we made the REMUS, and it's tough”.


During the tour, Tim thanked the entirety of his staff, but gave special attention to one subset that made the dream possible...and made all the equipment possible—his machining staff.

"The WHOI custom machine shop keeps the operation running at high speed...I know that there is an amazing team of scientists and professionals, and while I appreciate their enormous contribution, I also really value and want to call out the people who turn the wrenches, run the machines, and bend the metal.”


The Machining Shop that Made Shark vs AUV Possible

The machining shop behind this project were the ones who turned the scientists and other professionals' ideas into reality.


With over two dozen CNC machines, the buzzat the WHOI custom machine shop seems eternal. Beyond CNC machines there is also an Omax Waterjet, standard Hardinge metal lathes, and the creme-de-la-creme, a Stratasy's industrial-grade 3D printer.


The processes involved in such a mission are extensive. The industrial 3D printer was used to create affordable prototype plastic parts, which helped them to figure out how to make the final parts—correctly—with metal. This trial-and-error process that is common in deep sea and other experimental types of engineering created a significantly cheaper learning process and final product. In addition to CNC machined metal parts for the final REMUS, the SharkCam itself used a number of 3D printed parts.


Tim explained that he would get fantastical designs from the scientists, then have his custom machine shop turn into parts. The process would generally take weeks to design with a CAD program, test with the 3D printer, and then make a final, functional version via a CNC machine. They would then have to ensure that the final product could hold up to its end purpose—being chomped down on with great white shark teeth.


CNC Machining at its Finest

CNC machining truly is the wave of the future. The precision parts it can create can appease even the most creative of scientists and engineers—and help build high-end products, like the REMUS 100.


Here at Digital Machining Systems we're proud to bring technologies like CNC machining and 3D surface milling to the Lafayette area. And while we don't create many shark-bite-able products, we are a modern, technologically advanced machine shop using state-of-the-art computerized machining equipment. We provide our client partners with the best quality manufacturing services second-to-none in our industry by delivering custom designed mechanical parts on-time and precisely manufactured to their specifications.


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