It's one thing to 3D print your own kayak, it's another to trust it enough to actually climb in it and float down a river. And the chutzpah meter goes off the charts when it's all done with a 3D printer you completely designed and made yourself at home.
That's exactly what Jim Smith did though, and he's calling it "the world's first 3D printed kayak."
At 16 feet 8 inches, the kayak is made of 28 multi-colored pieces held together with machine screws, brass threaded inserts and silicone caulk.
"That's it. And it floats. And I can Kayak around in it," Smith wrote on his Grass Roots Engineering page.
It took Smith 1012.65 hrs (42.19 days) of print time and 58 pounds of ABS to print the kayak that was originally based on the Bay kayak by Bryan Hansel, though Smith heavily modified the design for 3D printing.
The print layers are .65 mm to save time and material. The hull is 6 mm thick and uses an internal rib structure for strength. The bow and stern also have attach points for cameras and handles.
One of the greatest benefits of 3D printing is that is allows for highly personalized finished products. Smith took advantage of this capability by customizing his kayak for optimal performance with someone of his height and weight.
Smith had to modify his home-built 3D printer to make the parts inside a heated chamber to avoid warping and cracking.
He began working on his 3D printer in late 2008 and had it fully functional in the late summer of 2010. It features a heated build plate and a build area of 15.86" x 15.86" x 12.70". The build base moves in the X and Y planes and the extruder moves in the Z plane.