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How Long Does it Take to Print the World's First 3D-Printed Kayak?

Print, print, print your boat
with ABS plastic.
Twenty-eight pieces
And no gaping creases,
3D printers are fantastic!

Jim Smith of Grass Roots Engineering has built the world’s first 3D-printed kayak. It rocks nearly a dozen different colors, floats like a dream and is relatively inexpensive to make.

Granted, you first need your own 3D printer, but after that you just need some screws, silicone caulk and roughly 60 pounds of the same plastic used in Lego bricks, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).

This is not the first 3D-printed boat that floats. In 2012, University of Washington students entered the very first 3D-printed boat in Seattle’s annual Milk Carton Derby. The students dumpster dove for milk cartons, which they then melted and fed into a 3D printer to create the 7-foot long boat.

Judging from images, the UW students printed the boat in a single go. Smith, on the other hand, printed 28 separate pieces over 42 days that he then assembled with machine screws, brass threaded inserts and finally some silicone caulk, which he applied in between the pieces to ensure an air-tight seal.

Smith’s 17-foot long Kayak weighs in at 65 pounds and is catered for optimal performance based on his height and weight. The home-based project cost him about $500 to make, which is comparable in price to some commercial kayaks.

Thirty years have passed since Chuck Hull, inventor of the 3D printing process called stereolithography, built the first 3D printer. The first object he printed was a tiny cup no larger than a golf ball. Today, 3D printers offer everything from space pizzas to prosthetics.

If Smith can build a Kayak with a 3D printer at home, is it too far of a stretch to think we could be printing car parts within the next ten years or whole cars in the next twenty? What about printing your own bike? Wait, that’s already been done. And it looks like Germany is well on its way to designing the first 3D printed car.

Is there anything that does not have it’s own 3D printed version? It looks like the world’s first 3D-printed spaceship is still up for grabs. How about it, NASA?


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