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World’s First 3D Printed Kayak
March 18th, 2014

I have completed construction of a completely 3D printed, customized Kayak. The Kayak measures 16ft 8in [5.08m] long and cost around $500 to make. It is made of ABS plastic, machine screws, brass threaded inserts and a little bit of silicone caulk. That’s it. And it floats. And I can Kayak around in it. In order to print such large, solid sections of Kayak, I had to modify my home-built, large scale 3D printer to print the parts inside a heated chamber so they would not warp or crack.

The Kayak

The Kayak is comprised 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. This design was initially based on the Siskiwit Bay kayak by Bryan Hansel, but heavily modified for 3D printing. The shape of the kayak was tweaked to optimize performance based on my height and weight. To reduce print time and material usage, the kayak is printed at a 0.65mm layer height. It features a 6mm thick hull with a built-in, internal rib/support structure to give it strength, yet be lightweight and use less ABS plastic. On the bow and stern of the Kayak I added attach points for cameras, handles and future add-ons.

Kayak Specs:

Spec Imperial Metric
Length 16ft 8in 5.08m
Width 1ft 8in 0.52m
Total Weight 64.58lbs 29.29kg
  • 3D Printed ABS Plastic Parts 58.15lbs 26.48kg
  • Screws 4.54lbs 2.068kg
  • Brass Threaded Inserts 1.89lbs 0.86kg
Print Time 1012.65 hrs [42.19 days]

Largest section of the kayak (#15) on the build plate

Inside the Heated Chamber during printing

Inside of Kayak, bolted sections and structure

Sealing section joints with silicone

Kayak on the dock

Kayak on the water



UPDATE: The Kayak CAD and BOM is now posted here:

3D Printed Kayak STLs, CAD, and Bill of Materials

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  1. bob
    March 19, 2014 at 3:35 am #

    Hi, how big was the biggest piece you printed, section 15, how many grams approx in eight?

  2. bob
    March 19, 2014 at 3:36 am #


    • Jim
      March 23, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

      Hello Bob,

      Section 15 weighed 1505g [3.32lbs]
      Size was approximately 381 x 229 x 275mm [15 x 9 x 11 in]

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  4. Jason Bowling
    March 19, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Very impressive. I was wondering – did you have to do any sealing of the parts? I know that most 3D printers produce parts that are a tiny bit porous due to small gaps in the layers, even at solid infill. Containers I’ve run off on my PrintrBot Simple are not airtight. Thanks!

    • Jim
      March 23, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

      Hello Jason,

      I only had to seal each of the interfaces between the 28 sections with silicone

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  7. Stefan
    March 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    This is impressive. When something breaks, you just print the new part … five years from here, there will be “drawings” available for download for a lot of boats…

    • Jim
      March 23, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

      Very possible Stefan!

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  11. Mike Noordijk
    March 20, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    I am intrigued by the possibility of printing ribs or fuselage frames for SOF kayak construction, 65lbs doesn’t sound llight if you’ve made a skin-on-frame kayak.

    • Jim
      March 23, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

      Printing a rib structure would be possible

    • Gary
      June 24, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

      Did you end up printing parts for a SOF kayak?

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    March 20, 2014 at 2:27 pm #
  13. Bucky
    March 20, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    Not only impressive you printed a real Kayak, but I’m in awe you did it with ABS. I just gave up with ABS from delamination an warping.

    Are you willing to share any additional information on your Heated Chamber? Aside from the reflective material, do you heat the chamber from a heat source other than the heated print bed or Extruder tip? If so, what temperature do you maintain during prints? Do you turn the heat off at the end of the print or have a scale down time/temp to room temp? i.e. ABS curing time? If so, are you willing to share this information?

    • Jim
      March 23, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

      Hello Bucky,

      I used the heat from the heated build surface to heat the chamber. Chamber sits nicely in the 65-70C range. After a part finished, I did let the part sit until it reached room temperature before removing.

  14. sean
    March 22, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    That is amazing! Got to know how well it holds up at the joints to normal use. You have a great concept. Replacement of broken section and not have to start over. Reduce size or change configuration of kayaks depending on need.

    • Jim
      March 23, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

      thank you sean!

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    March 22, 2014 at 7:22 pm #
  16. Chris
    March 23, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    Very impressive work and a real sign of things to come! From the looks of your heated chamber, it appears that there may be a way to scale up far more and do so efficiently. The company I work for has built many “environmental chambers” for the likes of Lockheed, Boeing, and many others for uses not altogether different from what you might need. Large, energy efficient, and high precision heated chambers are a very reasonable proposition. Please let me know if you would like to get some assistance towards making your ideas even bigger. I can certainly envision building full kayaks, sups, toys, furniture, etc in the very near future — throw away all the molds and increase possibilities exponentially.

  17. JonathanCole
    March 24, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    That is a very long time to print a kayak. Might be better to print an injection or roto mold if economics is to be any part of the equation. I have been working on building a solar powered live-aboard catamaran.
    I want to build the hulls out of HDPE segments so the 16 meter long hulls can be shipped cheaply and will be very durable. I envisioned exactly what you have done with ribbing structure. Are you available to work on such a project for printing molds?

    • Jim
      March 30, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      Hello Jonathan, I am not taking on small jobs at this time

  18. Tom
    March 25, 2014 at 3:28 am #

    Great work Jim! I understand it took 42 days to print all 28 parts on one 3D printer. If you’d scale this process, how fast do you think you could build this kayak with e.g. ten 3D printers. Would it be 1/10 of the time? 4 days?
    If you had 28 printers, you’d be able to print all parts in 1,5 days + time needed for assembly and sealing section joints.

    How much do you think you could eventually shorten the construction of one kayak if you had the 3D printers available?

    • Jim
      March 30, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

      Hello Tom, Yes it would scale that way if I had more printers. Probably just take a couple of days.

  19. CJ
    March 25, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    did you have to seal the exterior of the parts?

    • Jim
      March 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      Hello CJ, No I just sealed the interfaces between each section.

  20. Andrew Spence
    March 26, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    Your kyak seems to work well on a placid river or lake but would it stand up to the flexing forces to which a sea-going (or white water) kyak would be subject?

    I suppose there is no reason in principle why a composite hull should not work on rough water/waves (after all, traditional clinker-built boats are made from strips of wood with caulking).

    That said, what works in theory does not always work in practice. It would be interesting if a light composite hull performed better than a monocoque hull. Maybe there is money in top-competition kyaks…

    • Jim
      March 30, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      Hello Andrew, I do not think a sea kayak would hold up very well in whitewater.

  21. Kenduro
    March 27, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    really cool accomplishment but curious as to: since every section is ABS, why not glue several peices together as a sub assembly, and only use screws in like two areas, holding together the 3 subassemblies, both simplifying and saving weight, yet still allowing a level of dissassembly?

    • Jim
      March 30, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      Hello Kenduro, Glue itself would not hold up as well as bolts.

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  25. Andrea
    April 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    Hi Jim,
    Great Job!!!
    Do you think of making stl files available for download?

  26. Robert
    April 16, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

    That is a really cool printer setup with the heat chamber and everything! You stated “Each section has brass threaded thermoplastic inserts so the next corresponding section can be screwed into it” so did you put those in as it printed or did you add these during the cooling phase?

    • Jim
      May 12, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

      Thanks Robert, I used a soldering iron to insert the thermoplastic inserts after the part was completed and cooled.

  27. Richard
    May 17, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    Would you consider adding this to Thingverse.com making it open source so anyone can print one out?

    • Jim
      May 20, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

      Hello Richard, at this time I have not posted the files for download

  28. Brett Turnage
    September 5, 2014 at 12:45 am #

    Really cool. How did chop up the stl file?

    • Jim
      November 24, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

      Hello Brett, I designed it from scratch in Soildworks

  29. Fashard
    September 17, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    Can you please contact me re a project.

    Kind regards

  30. KJ Jin
    October 13, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Dear Mr. Jim Smith.

    Very impressive!
    My name is Keejong Jin lives in Korea who is learning 3D printing.
    I have to prepare graduation work.
    If possible,I hope to make Kayak to use 3D printing.
    I would like to ask you if I can get your STL file for Kayak.

    Thank you!


  31. John A. Johnson
    February 13, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    You do realize if you can adjust for prime fishing kayaks at a cheaper price than what’s offered in the market today you will be in the money big time…don’t you? The kayak fishing market is basically an untapped resource of a huge windfall for you.

    • Jim
      October 4, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

      Ooo, very interesting

  32. joe
    March 5, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

    Do you plan on releasing, or selling the design?

    • Jim
      October 4, 2015 at 11:26 pm #

      Hello Joe, at this time I have not posted the files for download

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  35. Laurent
    February 12, 2016 at 3:44 pm #

    Really impressive. Congratulations!

    I am exploring options for making a ~500 x 300 x 150 mm colourful plastic rounded cover for a structure in the ceiling of in my finished basement. Your 3D printing method seems like the best option so far. Are you open to a business offer?


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  39. Ivor
    October 30, 2016 at 10:36 am #

    Hi Jim,

    Very nice job done. I would like to repeat it, yet using glassfilled polyprop to make it lighter and cheaper. Would you be willing to share your design files?


  40. Will-the-Thrill
    May 23, 2017 at 9:40 pm #


    I’m a serious kayaker, but I don’t have much knowledge in the 3D printer/maker world. I have a few questions.
    First off, congratulations on the success, I have some criticisms and concerns, but as the first of its kind, it’s an amazing feat! I’m looking forward to eventually seeing later evolutions that are on pace to out-perform traditionally manufactured kayaks!

    How well are the seams matched up? Do they cause much drag? Have you considered getting the parts that contact water planed to perfection and then coated with some sort of seal so as to encase the seams inside a solid unbroken layer? (given your impressive skill, I’d suspect this is something you’d be capable of doing yourself?)

    Looks like you’ve got about 6.5 lbs in hardware, it seems like there should be some way to cut weight in this area without sacrificing structural integrity. Are you already using the lightest options such as aluminum screws? Or is that not advisable for other reasons I’m unaware of?

    Have you made any other efforts to reduce weight? I don’t see foot pegs, rudder system, or bulkheads installed. I’m concerned that after adding these the whole thing would get close to or surpass 70 lbs.

    I’ll end by reiterating how impressed I am by the project, I don’t believe there’s a any brand new 16’+ kayak on the market. Quite an achievement!

    • Jim
      February 23, 2020 at 10:02 pm #

      Thank you! Seams are matched up very well, I don’t think they create too much drag. Yes I have considered coating all in epoxy maybe. Aluminum screws would probably work for this, but greater weight saving could maybe be achieved with a smaller hull thickness and a more exotic printer filament. Thanks for the kind words!

  41. Pingback: The World’s First 3D Printed Kayak
    September 17, 2017 at 4:59 pm #
    December 24, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

    Do you know I others have successfully built a 3d printer from your plans? I have several projects I want to print.

  43. Oliver
    March 8, 2019 at 1:21 am #

    im a fan of this print where can i get the plans to build myself one

  44. hyungsoo kim
    October 6, 2019 at 10:42 am #

    Are you willing to reveal Stl now?
    I really want to make it.

    • Jim
      October 6, 2019 at 9:29 pm #


  45. hyungsoo kim
    October 7, 2019 at 5:36 am #

    I’m really looking forward to it.
    I really want to make it.
    Where are you going to make it public?
    Where can I check it out?

  46. hyungsoo kim
    October 19, 2019 at 8:32 pm #

    I don’t know when to reveal it, so I come in every day to check it out.
    I’m really looking forward to it.
    I want to print out this winter and start kayaking next spring.

  47. hyungsoo kim
    November 27, 2019 at 10:51 am #

    I sincerely hope it will be released soon.
    I come here every day.
    I’m spending every day just in case.

    • Jim
      November 30, 2019 at 12:38 pm #


  48. hyungsoo kim
    December 28, 2019 at 5:58 pm #

    It’s almost 2020.
    I come in every day to check, but unfortunately,
    It’s the same.
    I hope 2020 is a year full of hope and happiness.

  49. Montero Rodrigo
    July 24, 2020 at 8:31 am #

    pasarias los archivos de manera gratuita?

  50. Dylan Bowerman
    July 26, 2020 at 1:30 am #

    I am very impressed by your kayak! Unfortunately, my printer is not capable of bringing it to life for size and heated enclosure (specifically the lack of one) reasons, primarily. That said, I’m very impressed by this feat of engineering.
    It may be something that I look further into as I continue my education at a STEM university (research project, replication, something like that…)!
    Best wishes to you in your future endeavors, which I can only hope include further iterations of this design or new and improved innovations.

    • Jim
      July 26, 2020 at 11:10 am #

      Thank you!

  51. B
    July 26, 2020 at 11:02 am #

    2 questions.
    1) Has anyone tried in PLA?
    2) Is it scalable? In my state I don’t have to license any boat under 10′ in length.

    • Jim
      July 26, 2020 at 11:09 am #

      I’m not sure what other materials people have tried. Yes, the 3D source model can be modified as needed: http://www.grassrootsengineering.com/blog/3d-printed-kayak-stls-cad-and-bill-of-materials/

    • Justin
      September 21, 2020 at 12:26 pm #

      I think petg is likely to be a better option than pla since it has better layer adhesion and can tolerate higher temps. You’d almost definately have to resin a pla boat. Imagine your yak is warped by the sun while in route.

    • Jim
      September 22, 2020 at 12:21 am #

      Yes, PET is a better option than PLA

  52. Montero Rodrigo
    July 29, 2020 at 12:16 pm #

    que area de impresión tiene la impresors? la mia imprime 20×20 x 30 de alto

    • Jim
      July 29, 2020 at 8:14 pm #

      403.00 x 403.00 x 322.70 mm [15.86 x 15.86 x 12.70 inches].

  53. Justin
    September 21, 2020 at 12:06 pm #

    I am looking at printing this on a stock cr-10 using petg instead of abs. Because the cr-10 only has 12x12x15.5 in build volume I’ll have to split at least the two largest sections (having not looked at the models yet i’m not sure). I’m wondering how you feel about petg and if you think it’d be possible to split those parts and assembly them after. I’d be copying your attachment method.

    • Jim
      September 22, 2020 at 12:24 am #

      Hello Justin, Yes, PET should be fine, likely as good as ABS for this application. Yes, splitting the two largest parts (both Green) would be no problem. The source files can be modified as needed to add some screw holes for the next split as well in the same fashion as all the other sections.

  54. Dylan F
    December 1, 2020 at 11:11 pm #

    Would you consider making a new round of files split into smaller sections for us that don’t have such large build volumes?

    • Jim
      December 2, 2020 at 10:00 pm #

      Hello Dylan, The source files can be modified as needed to add new screw hole patterns for splitting the model further in the same fashion as all the other sections.

  55. Jeff
    August 23, 2022 at 1:18 pm #

    Jim — This is so crazy-cool. Thanks for putting it out there! From the pictures, I like the hull design very much. I’m inspired to try to print molds for an aramid layup. Do you have any links or info along those lines? Thanks!

    • Jim
      August 30, 2022 at 8:08 pm #

      Thank you Jeff! I do not, but you could possibly use the CAD model to fairly easily create a printable negative of the hull for layups

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