Field Testing the Viability of 3D-printed Oyster Farm Equipment

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2022: $24,662.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipient: Winnegance Oyster Farm
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Jordan Kramer
Winnegance Oyster Farm


  • Animals: shellfish


  • Animal Production: aquaculture
  • Education and Training: demonstration

    Proposal summary:

    This project will test 3D printed oyster bags made from four different materials: nylon, ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene ), PLA flex (flexible variant of biopolymer polylactic acid), and UHMW sheeting (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene). Oysters will be grown in 3D printed bags for a full growing season. Bags will be checked for wear/damage and fouling monthly, and photographed under a dissecting scope at the end of the year. Damage will be categorized by type and location, to identify vulnerabilities in materials that would limit their usefulness in future prototypes of experimental farming gear (that this project hopes to make possible). Outreach will consist of social media posts, field site tours, peer-to-peer meetings, and through seeking press.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project aims to test whether 3D printed materials are able to withstand the harshness of the marine environment and the rigors of farming. Though the end goal is to enable the fabrication of prototypes/new designs, this project will test a standard piece of equipment to separate the suitability of materials from the strengths/weaknesses of new designs

    Objective 1) Design/replicate oyster bags in four materials and 2 mesh sizes at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts Fabrication Lab, and at Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership (facilities with different fabrication capabilities)

    Objective 2) Deploy bags on two field test sites- Winnegance Oyster Farm in West Bath, ME -a commercial oyster farm, and Hurricane island school- an experimental/demonstration farm that is part of a sustainability-focused non-profit and grow oysters for one season (7 months), with monthly inspection and photographs of wear, damage, and fouling organisms

    Objective 3) Quantify wear through scope photography at end of season

    Objective 4) Share results with farmers and educators in the region- with the hope that our materials test will aid innovative farmers as they create new varieties of aquaculture equipment.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.