42 days on; a 3D-printed kayak emerges

PlasticsToday has covered 3D printing extensively in recent times and for good reason. The technology is transforming the manner in which industry and individuals are able to manufacture customized products. Case-in-point: A kayak fabricated using plastic filament-based 3D printing.

3D printed part inside heating chamber.

The kayak is comparable in weight and cost to a traditional version made from thermoset composite according to its developer Jim Smith. It measures 16 foot 8 inches [5.08 m] in length, weighs in at exactly 64.58 lb. (29.29 kg) and cost around $500 to build.

"It is manufactured using pre-colored ABS resins [accounting for 58.15 lb. of the overall weight], machine screws, brass threaded inserts and a little bit of silicone caulk," says Smith. "And it floats." The largest ABS section weights 3.32 lb. (1505 g) and measures 381 x 229 x 275 mm (15 x 9 x 11 inches). Print time was 1012.65 hours.

In order to print such large, solid sections of kayak, Smith modified his home-built, large scale 3D printer to print the parts inside a heated chamber so they would not warp or crack. The kayak is comprised of a total of 28 3D printed sections. Each section has brass threaded thermoplastic inserts so the next corresponding section can be screwed into it. Silicone caulk is only used between the sections to ensure it is watertight.

To reduce print time and material usage, the kayak is printed at a 0.65-mm layer height using 1.75-mm diameter filament. It features a 6-mm thick hull with a built-in, internal rib/support structure to give it strength, yet be lightweight and use less ABS plastic. Attachment points for cameras, handles and future add-ons have also been incorporated into the bow and stern.

The design was initially based on the Siskiwit Bay kayak of Bryan Hansel, but heavily modified for 3D printing. Further, the shape of the kayak was tweaked to optimize performance based on Smith's height and weight.

More information can be found at Smith's blogging site: Grass Roots Engineering. Smith works full-time as an engineer at 3D Systems (Rock Hill, NC).

bolted section
ABS sections bolted together.
large section
A large section being printed.
The completed kayak in action on the water.



Comments (0)

Please log in or to post comments.
  • Oldest First
  • Newest First
Loading Comments...