Pinbone Wizard
Tim Manning, GI Machine Shop assistant manager, demonstrates the Pinbone Wizard machine in this 2007 photo, while manager Greg Shipman looks on. Melissa Hart photo

A ‘pinbone wizard’ for Alaska salmon

Alaska salmon has a lot going for it — it’s natural, plentiful and healthy. But, oh, those pesky bones.

Larry Kozycki, the manager of the Geophysical Institute machine shop, decided to do something about them. Spurred by an open challenge from Gov. Tony Knowles to find innovative ways to help Alaska fisheries compete with farmed fish, he developed the prototype for the Pinbone Wizard in the mid-1990s. After Kozycki died in 2001, the device was refined by his successor at the machine shop, Greg Shipman.

The small, electric-powered device uses a series of disks to remove pinbones from a salmon fillet without damaging the flesh. It can pluck as many as 180 bones per minute, efficiently deboning a fillet in about 10 seconds. 

Through numerous prototypes, several patents were registered for mechanisms that make the Pinbone Wizard work. UAF’s Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization licensed the technology to Freeman-Bell, a Juneau machine shop, in 2014.

With more versatility than large, factory-scaled deboning machines, the relatively small, foot-operated Pinbone Wizard is envisioned as a product for commercial fishermen and mid-size processing plants. 

Decades after it was imagined, a challenge accepted at the Geophysical Institute machine shop could be delivering relief to Alaska’s frustrated salmon consumers.

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