University of Washington Club 3D Prints a Boat with Recycled Materials

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UW 3D Print Boat Recycled

Students at University of Washington have achieved two amazing feats: 1) 3D print a 7-foot boat, and 2) use recycled milk cartons as the raw materials for the print.

The students are part of an organization called the University of Washington Fabbers, and used a large, custom-designed 3D printer in the UW’s Mechanical Engineering Building. The completed boat was raced at the annual Milk Carton Derby at Green Lake in Seattle.

The new UW student club, Washington Open Object Fabricators (or WOOF), built the boat as its inaugural project. They spent the last two months researching, engineering, extruding, printing, and dumpster diving for the greater good, and eventually produced a 40 lbs (~250 1 gallon milk jugs) “canoeyak” capable of supporting 150lbs.

The club aimed to be the first to print a seaworthy craft, but the judges of the Derby weren’t sure what to make of their creation. Qualification was a problem as the engineers had used recycled milk cartons for its buoyancy, but not quite in the way that contest organizers had originally envisioned. It was eventually decided that the boat should be entered as “an unofficial entry in the adult open category” — it placed second in the race.

Speaking to, faculty adviser Mark Ganter, professor of mechanical engineering, said that printing a boat “was a historic first.”

“Frankly, milk jug material is an awful material to work with,” Ganter said. “It shrinks, it curls, it doesn’t want to stick to itself. Overcoming all those parts of the problem was part of the achievement.”



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2 Responses to University of Washington Club 3D Prints a Boat with Recycled Materials

  1. Pamela says:

    This is so out-of-the-box. I’m going to mention it in my upcoming Desktop Engineering article on New Materials in Additive Manufacturing (November). Stay tuned to

  2. [...] University of Washington Club 3D Prints a Boat with Recycled Materials [...]

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