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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

Kayaking

Kayaking

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67 Comments:
  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 #

    weight

    • 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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    March 19, 2014 at 4:00 am #
  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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    March 19, 2014 at 11:20 am #
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    March 19, 2014 at 11:56 am #
  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

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  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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  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?

    • Jim
      May 12, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

      Thanks Andrea! They are not available at this time.

  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?

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

    Can you please contact me re a project.

    Kind regards
    Fashard

  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!

    KJ

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