Jim Smith is an ambitious man. He not only built himself a large 3D printer, he also decided to have it make him a kayak. It appears to be the world's first 3D-printed kayak, and it's a stunner.
The kayak's multi-colored patchwork design looks like it would appeal to Colin Baker's version of "Doctor Who." The boat consists of 28 parts printed using ABS plastic. The materials to produce the nearly 17-foot-long kayak with a 6mm-thick hull cost around $500, according to Smith. The whole contraption weighs nearly 65 pounds, which is pretty much in line with the weight of a regular kayak.
The individual sections are held together with metal bolts and sealed with silicone so it won't go all Titanic and sink. The internal structure features a series of ribs to help strengthen the design. The unusual creation is water-worthy, with photographic and video evidence to prove it.
The 3D printer that spit out the kayak is as impressive as the vessel itself. The custom-built gadget builds parts on a large scale and uses a heated chamber to prevent warping and cracking. Smith has been fine-tuning the printer, based on his own design, since 2008.
One of the advantages of printing your own kayak, besides owning a one-of-kind piece of floating art, is that it can be customized to your height and weight. Smith did exactly that. It was a time-consuming project, but it's also a sneak peek at the possible future of 3D printers in the home. It might not be too long before we're all churning out custom kayaks, or even 3D-printed cars.