3D printed bikini — that’s one hell of a phrase I didn’t think I would say anytime soon, but hey! I said it anyway. Our oceans and water bodies are being polluted by industrial waste, oil spill and waste from deep sea mining sites among others. Why we can only do so little as individuals to remedy the situation, there’s certainly ‘ a lot of little’ we can do.
Enter the Eco-freindly 3D printed bikini— The Sponge Suit bikini
An illustration of the 3D printed bikini || image credit : Eray Carbajo
The Sponge Suit bikini was designed by New York and Istanbul based architecture and design firm Eray Carbajo in collaboration with UC Riverside electrical engineering professor Mihri Ozkan. It is ingeniously designed to absorb pollutants from the ocean as its wearer swims around in them. The bikini is crafted from a 3D-printed, netlike structure made of synthetic rubber and a reusable and recyclable padding made from a material called “Sponge”. While most bikini clad swimmers swim through our water bodies, am pretty sure the last thing on their mind would be how to clean up the ocean with a pair of clothing strapped to their chest. Nonetheless, this piece of innovation was created anyway — talking of wearable tech being the new sexy, this is a classic example. Call it a wearable gadget , a designers clothing or just about anything your conscious mind can conceive, it doesn’t really scratch it — the sponge suit bikini reflects the beautiful intricacy possible with 3D printing, as well as the technical challenges of creating a flexible eco-freindly clothing out of a single solid. Sponge which is the base material for the bikini design is a relatively new material developed by engineers from the university of California about four years ago. Researchers were trying to create a useful technology to help clean up oil or chemical spills, or desalinize water. The engineers created Sponge from heated sucrose that was modified on the molecular level. The material is said to be highly porous, which means that it can easily absorb other substances but it is also hydrophobic, which means that it doesn’t absorb water. Going back to chemistry 101, this will imply that if you put Sponge in an oil and water mixture, it will likely absorb the oil but will not absorb the water.
The material can be used up to 20 times before it looses its absorbency and can absorb up to 25 times its own weight. They researchers claim that the contaminants are trapped in the inner pores of the sponge material, so they don’t touch the skin, and the suit doesn’t release any substance it absorbs unless heated to temperatures exceeding 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius). After it looses its absorbency, it can be replaced with new Sponge padding, and the old padding can be recycled, so that the contaminants can be safely extracted and dealt with, the researchers said. “We aim for a future where everyone, with any shape and form of swimming outfit, can contribute to the cleanliness of the seas by a sports activity or simply a leisurely summer vacation.” the research team told 3ders.org . While one sponge suit bikini clad swimmer won’t make much of a practical diference in reality, thousands of eco-freindly swimmers with this wearable technology can go a long way to make a difference. So,get yours — go green and save the planet.