While most of the talk in the 3D printing industry centers on what the best new 3D printers might be, or the latest medical breakthrough due to the technology, there’s a lot more going on. It’s set to become a pivotal technology for the construction sector, for instance.
However, it’s also helping to reduce our impact on other species that share the world with us. One new initiative aims to use 3D printed sea turtle eggs to both track and deter poaching.
Why the Focus on Sea Turtle Eggs?
While there have been many species that have been severely impacted by human activities, no one can deny that the world’s sea turtle population has been decimated. The damage has been done not only by things like pollution and the deaths of mature animals, but by the hunger for their eggs.
In many nations around the world, poachers dig up sea turtle eggs and then sell them on the black market. They’re used for everything from food to folk medicine.
Now, one organization wants to use advanced 3D printing technologies to discourage this practice and give sea turtles a fighting chance. Paso Pacifico has come up with a plan to use fake turtle eggs.
They’re 3D printed, and equipped with a GSM system so that they can be tracked wherever they might go.
While the egg design is still in development, once it has been perfected, the plan will go into action. Fake turtle eggs will be added to real turtle nests.
When those nests are invaded, poachers will take both the real eggs and the fake ones. Both law enforcement agents and conservationists will then be able to track the eggs and determine where they are being taken and where they end up.
There is a lot of excitement about the project, and it actually won the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, which was sponsored in part by National Geographic, the Smithsonian, TRAFFIC, and US Aid for International Development. The prize earned the company $10,000 as well as a great deal of support to help bring their egg plan to fruition.
“The plan is to start resting the transmitters in July,” stated Eduardo Bone-Moron, the organization’s managing director. “Our rangers will locate vulnerable active nests that are more likely to be poached.
For example, nests that are closer to trails. We will plant as many eggs as possible in the beach to increase the possibility of poachers taking the artificial eggs.”
The goal is to glean important information. For instance, law enforcement officials and conservationists will be able to learn more about sea turtle egg trafficking routes, as well as helping to locate the networks that support this activity.
Sea turtle egg shipping must be done quickly, because the eggs are only good for about two weeks, which has made tracking these operations very difficult in the past.
This is just one more way that 3D printing is being turned to the good of the whole world, rather than just being used to line the coffers of already wealthy businesses.