Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Degree Level



Mechanical Engineering


Tung, Steve

Committee Member/Reader

Roe, Larry

Committee Member/Second Reader

Zhou, Wenchao



This project was conducted at the University of Arkansas with access to 3D printers and a water tunnel. The project examines drag forces over 3D-printed shark skin. Shark skin was chosen to be studied because of its unique three-pronged denticle shape and the assumption that this unique shape has a purpose, such as drag reduction.

A shark denticle was designed using SolidWorks software, multiplied 164 times creating a total skin area of 17.5 in2, and printed using both a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer and an Ultimaker 2 Go 3D printer. The shark skin was initially printed using NinjaFlex material with the MakerBot, but the final 3D printed shark skin was printed with PLA using the Ultimaker printer. The Ultimaker printer has a higher resolution with an ability to print up to 20 micron, yielding a higher quality print [6].

The shark skin was placed on a 3D printed ABS plate and tested in a water tunnel against a control plate without shark skin. The plates were set to test at speeds of 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5, and at the water tunnel’s maximum speed setting of 5 in/s. The water tunnel, however, only reached a maximum of about 3.52 in/s. Experimental data collected using deflection measurements yielded an average drag reduction value of 32%. This value was greater than expected due to the limited measurement sensitivity of this means of data collection. A strain gage setup was also used to collect data, but due to limited time, the setup was not calibrated as necessary. Preliminary data was taken, however, and is included in this paper.