The Hadal zone lies at an eerie 20,000 to 36,000 feet below the sea in the Mariana Trench. A combination of water density, intense pressure and darkness make it difficult for scientists to capture data that deep in the ocean. Some living creatures such as sea anemones have adapted to these conditions and are able to survive using soft bodies and pedal discs to give them a strong grip that allows them to attach to rocks and withstand strong currents. The remora suckerfish is similar in that it has a highly modified dorsal fin that forms an adhesive disc, one of the most impressive adaptations within the vertebrates.
Science Robotics has designed a multimaterial biomimetric remora disc using 3D printing and soft robotics. This underwater robot is capable of strong adhesion and hitchhiking on smooth and rough surfaces, including shark skin. They used varieties of flexible and rigid material on an Objet Connex 500 C3 3D printer from Stratasys, and used Solidworks to create the CAD file. This could allow for new ways of exploration and understanding of marine wildlife, even in the deepest and darkest parts of the ocean.
Jackson, Beau. “3D Printed Suckerfish Grip Could Take Explorers into The Great Unknown.”3D Printing Industry, 15 Sept. 2017, 3dprintingindustry.com/news/3d-printed-suckerfish-grip-take-explorers-into-great-unkown-121577/.
Wang, Yueping, et al. “A Biorobotic Adhesive Disc for Underwater Hitchhiking Inspired by the Remora Suckerfish.” Science Robotics, Science Robotics, 20 Sept. 2017, robotics.sciencemag.org/content/2/10/eaan8072.full.