We all know that 3D printed objects can function in outer space, as NASA and Made In Space have proven the fact, earlier this year. The idea of printing objects and then sending them into space, or even actually printing them in space under micro-gravity conditions, is quite a feat. While there is a definite enthusiasm for anything “space” related, it surprised me that even before we had tested out the capabilities of 3D printing to their fullest here on earth, we were already beginning to explore their capabilities outside of earth’s atmosphere.
For one man, named Martin Baumers, he elected to stay on earth, and explore the depths of the this planet’s large bodies of water, and the potential that 3D printing has for creating components for deep water applications. Over the first half of 2015, Baumers carried out a project which he refers to as “Deep-Z“.
As part of the project, Baumers decided to send a 3D vessel carrying a little Lego man named Jacques, 200 meters under the surface of Lago d’Ieo in Italy. Lago d’Ieo (Lake Iseo) is the fourth largest lake in Lombardy, Italy, with depths as deep as 251 meters. The deep water camera/light housings as well as the submarine vessel carrying the Lego scuba diver, were all 3D printed using a Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process.
“For this project, the standard material used in Laser Sintering was chosen,” Baumers explained. “The name of this material is Polyamide 12, which is also known as Nylon. This material is quite strong for a plastic and reliably produces parts that can be used for demanding applications. Among many other uses, parts made from this material have been used in aeroplanes, cars and for medical products. As with many 3D Printing technologies, the most common application of Laser Sintering is the production of prototypes, though.”
Last month, the big day arrived and Baumers equipped his camera with the protective 3D printed housing and sent it, along with Mr. Lego man and his 3D printed submarine, down to a depth of 200 meters (656.16 feet) under the Italian lake, to see just how well these 3D printed parts could handle the unforgiving pressures of depths so great.
As you can see in the video below, the equipment and the miniature submarine went down and then came back up to the surface without any noticeable damage. The 3D printed waterproof camera housing worked like it should and Baumers proved that in the future there may be quite a use for 3D printed parts under the sea.
Baumers has made all of the 3D printed objects available for others to print out at home, via his website, as well as the construction details of some of these objects.
It should be interesting to see what this ultimately leads to. What do you think? Would you have thought that these 3D printed parts would have held up under the pressure of 200 meters of water? Discuss in the Deep-Z forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below, showing Jacques and his submarine being deployed 200 meters under the water.