It’s always nice to be reminded of why 3D printing is so much fun. While the technology may have been developed as a manufacturing method, what we now collectively call the 3D printing industry was really kicked off by groups of makers having fun in their garages and hackspaces. Printing statues, basic tools, jewelry and even cleverly designed trinkets has always been a big part of why the hobby is so much fun for so many users. And while I love watching the industry grow and develop, for me, the best past of 3D printing is when makers create things that have no real purpose other than to do something fun or unexpected. Creativity for creativity’s sake is something that is often lost when business and commerce get involved in anything, so I always think it’s great when anyone creates something just because they thought it would be fun.
And while Thingiverse may be part of a large business, they, and every 3D model marketplace, are acutely aware of how important makers and a sense of fun are to the survival of their industry. So they do a lot to encourage people to create fun things, both by adding a community reward system (likes) to objects uploaded to their platform, and by holding contests and challenges. All summer long, Thingiverse is issuing science challenges with a focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) education. One Thingiversity challenge is called Make It Float and encourages users to build a boat or an object of some kind that floats.
Dutch Thingiverse user and 3D print designer Maarten Kurver took inspiration from this month’s challenge and designed a kite powered boat made from a handful of 3D printed parts and two repurposed plastic bottles. The basic design is derived from a catamaran style boat that has a stable deck suspended above two parallel hulls of equal size that keep the deck afloat. However, rather than a typical sail, Kurver added a kite attached to a rotating peg that allows the boat to be pulled in whatever direction the wind blows.
Kurver designed his bottle boat using SketchUp Pro, first by creating a basic design, and then by using the measurements of the repurposed bottles to create the straps that hold them in place. The 3D printed parts available on Thingiverse include four connectors that fit around the bottles, two rods that hold them in place, and a deck to sit on top of the board. There is also a movable part that attaches the boat to the kite, as well as a long brace and two connectors that hold the kite’s shape. The kite itself can be made from basic kite paper, and it can also be made out of plastic or any material that will catch the wind. Kurver suggests that you can even attach a real kit to the boat. The parts are held together with standard metal nuts and bolts, however the boat is lightweight enough that anyone building their own bottle boat could easily 3D print the nuts and bolts if they wanted to.
While Kurver has not tried his bottle boat out on a pond or a lake, he has used a hairdryer to successfully use the kite to propel the boat through water. Kurver says that he was inspired by the technical challenge of designing a unique style of boat and hopes that his design encourages others to modify it further and create their own versions.
Kurver runs his own 3D printable design store byctrldesign.nl, which sells 3D printing supplies and accessories as well as a selection of 3D printed products like birdhouses, iPhone stands and simple light features.
Have you 3D printing this boat? Let us know how well it turned out in the 3D Printed Bottle boat forum thread on 3DPB.com.