Case Study

National Geographic Makes CritterCam Smaller and Lighter with 3D Printing

national geographic 3d printed crittercam
National Geographic
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“In only a few days we received our SLS 3D printed parts in hand. Creating direct digital manufactured parts saved us time by being able to install them right away and saved money by not having to get the parts tooled.”

Crittercam was envisioned and invented by marine biologist and filmmaker Greg Marshall. National Geographic introduced the first generation of the Crittercam back in 1987 and has continually been improving it. The Crittercam has been used in March of the Penguins, National Geographic’s Wild Chronicles and many other National Geographic DVDs.

The Crittercam is a research tool designed to be worn by wild animals. It combines video and audio recording with the collection of environmental data such as depth, temperature, velocity and acceleration and even makes three-dimensional profiles of the dives of sea creatures.

These compact systems allow scientists to study animal behavior without the interference of a human observer. Combining solid data with gripping imagery, Crittercam brings the animal’s point of view to the scientific community and delivers a message of conservation to worldwide television audiences.


With this new version, Greg Marshall and his team wanted to make it smaller, lighter and incorporate the latest technology for both audio and video, thereby allowing it to be more robust. In order for this to occur, they needed to think outside the box. They decided that a custom SLS part would serve multiple purposes and allow them total design freedom. The part needed to brace and center the controller board that was already connected to the backplate and serve as the supporting structure for the camera mounting.


Already familiar with Quickparts and very happy with their customer service, National Geographic uploaded their files to the website. Within a few minutes, they were able to quote and purchase their parts so they could have them in hand as soon as possible.


“Quickparts has always been able to provide me quotes and parts fast, but I keep going back to them because of my satisfaction with their level of customer service. Other people I have used were afraid to ask questions where this team doesn’t hesitate to contact me if they need any clarification, and I really appreciate that” said Greg Marshall, marine biologist and filmmaker. “After I finish talking to them, I feel comfortable in knowing that I am going to get quality parts in an expedited manner.”

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