This 3D Printed, Steam-Powered ‘Pop Pop Boat’ is Fueled by a Candle

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poppopCreativity is what drives innovation, and innovation has been driven quite far lately thanks to 3D printing technology. Whether it is a group of high school students, researchers at an Ivy League school, engineers at Ford Motor Company, or just a hobbyist at home, 3D printing is bringing ideas to life in ways that previously were not possible.

One company that has been a motivating force in this drive for innovation is MakerBot. They are always thinking of ways to bring the creative side out of people, and a recent challenge called Make It Float asked designers to come up with ideas for a boat or other floating object, and then print it out and show how well it performs in the water.

Vid Kok, a teenage student from Slovenia who has a knack for anything related to 3D printing, CNC machining or CAD modeling, decided to take aim at this competition with a creation of his own.

“A week or two ago I was looking for some models on Thingiverse and I coincidentally came across the ‘Make It Float Challenge’,” Kok tells 3DPrint.com. “My first idea was to make a hamster powered boat but I abandoned it because I don’t have a hamster to test it with. I have seen some pop pop engines on YouTube before and I made one out of thin copper tube. I came up with an idea to make one that was 3D printed.”

poppopboat1

So this is exactly what he ended up doing. He created his very own “pop pop” engine which utilizes steam power to propel a 3D printed boat. Using Solidworks, Kok designed and printed several iterations of his boat before he found one that functioned quite well. Using Z-Suite slicer, he sliced both the hull and the engine of his boat before 3D printing it on a Zortrax M200 3D Printer.

The boat is powered by steam, using a candle to boil water in a “boiler.” The water boils, thus expanding into steam, and this expanded steam pushes water that is in the exhaust (plastic straws), causing the boat to move about the water. Then when the water cools down, it creates a vacuum which sucks more water into the exhaust, thus creating a cycle that repeats itself. While this process is occurring there is a very clear popping sound created, thus the name “Pop Pop Boat” is quite fitting.

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Although the design and the idea are quite simple, even Kok was amazed by the results.

“I was testing it for about ten minutes and I was pleasantly surprised that it was still moving and nothing was leaking,” he tells us. “Aluminum foil has proved to be perfect for this project. I am still fascinated that although it is just not more than 0,025 mm thick it can withstand loads caused by water and heat. Plastic parts were printed with Z-ABS filament, which is durable, flexible and the most important, pretty heat resistant.”

poppopboat2While the boat functions quite well, as you can see in the video below, Kok still plans to iterate upon the design further, in hopes of one day releasing a bigger even more efficient Pop Pop Boat.

In the mean time, the design files for this boat are free for anyone to download and 3D print themselves on Thingiverse. It would be the perfect project for teachers who are looking for ways in which they can utilize a 3D printer within their classroom, or just someone who wants to create a really functional 3D printed toy.

What do you think about this cool little 3D printed boat? Any ideas on how it could be improved upon? Discuss in the 3D Printed Pop Pop Boat forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below showing the boat in action.

 

 

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