Project finished March 2014
I have completed construction of a completely 3D printed, customized Kayak. The Kayak measures 16ft 8in [5.08m] long and cost around $500 to make. It is made of ABS plastic, machine screws, brass threaded inserts and a little bit of silicone caulk. That’s it. And it floats. And I can Kayak around in it. In order to print such large, solid sections of Kayak, I had to modify my home-built, large scale 3D printer to print the parts inside a heated chamber so they would not warp or crack.
The Kayak is comprised of 28, 3D printed sections. Each section has brass threaded thermoplastic inserts so the next corresponding section can be screwed into it. Silicone caulk is only used between the sections to ensure it is watertight. This design was initially based on the Siskiwit Bay kayak by Bryan Hansel, but heavily modified for 3D printing. The shape of the kayak was tweaked to optimize performance based on my height and weight. To reduce print time and material usage, the kayak is printed at a 0.65mm layer height. It features a 6mm thick hull with a built-in, internal rib/support structure to give it strength, yet be lightweight and use less ABS plastic. On the bow and stern of the Kayak I added attach points for cameras, handles and future add-ons.SUBSCRIBE TO PADDLINGLIGHTReceive PaddlingLight updates straight to your inbox every time I publish a new article. Your email address will never be shared
Juanjo Sanz, Barcelona
Juanjo stretched the design to 18 feet by spacing the stations further apart than 1 foot. He says:
I am very happy with. It paddles very easy and is fast.
Project finished summer 2009
R. Ilfeld writes:
[I] Made it fatter – I have had two shoulder surgeries this year & ended up with a fair amount of hardware in the left one. Free ship thinks it’s good for 300 lbs and 25% more stable. If I have to I’ll add cheeks for even more.
My wife thinks it paddles OK she has some medical issues requiring stability as well. I get a ride as soon as the doctor releases me. Its a day boat on gentle water (Tampa Bay) for me. Thanks for the design inspiration- Sent you some ‘beer money.’
About the construction and design modifications:
I loaded your offsets into freeship, then adjusted by hand for stability, the size of my bottom, and then tweaked to make it look like the original. It ended up sort of pear shaped if you look from the top, though only by a couple of inches. A little width seems to add a lot of displacement.
I tried flush wood fore and aft hatches with just a finger pull protruding – takes strong fingers.
Made carbon fittings for rigging, glue to surface so no hull protrusions.
I poured a cu. Ft. of urethane for ad aft for reserve flotation. Your bow was better. By the time I left enough wood for strength on the handle hole, it looked like a rhinoplastician might be in order.
This one was second life wood (salvaged from some discarded golf course cedar construction timber). I have been led to believe that my wife thinks ‘hers’ should be ‘pretty’ which I think means a butterfly inlay. So I may have another picture and donation for you in a year or so.
Thanks for building!
Darren Gladysz, Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec
Project started May 2009, Launched Aug 2009
I thought I would send you some files that may be of help to future kayak builders. These are more for cnc usage. Welcome to the age of the machine :) I will also send you some pictures in another email.
I am sending you the dxf for the stations, stern and bow pieces, a mastercam file (mcx format) for these as well as 2 g-code files which are in text format.
I had my plywood sheet cut out to 2 pieces, a 37 (x axis) by 40 (y axis) and a 59 (x axis) by 40 (y axis) for ease of transport from Home depot. Everything fits on this. There is a gcode file for each pieces. st1-txt is for the 37×40 and st2-txt is for the 59×40 piece. The axis are important btw. Also, I am using 3/4 inch plywood.
I have notched the stern and bow pieces as well as stations 1, 2, 14, 15 and 16 so that they interlock. They are tight and plywood thicknesses vary depending if you have finished or rough plywood. I sized them to .740 inches.
The other stations have a 5.375 high by 2.25 wide cutout for the center beam. I bought structural LVL for the center beam thinking it would be straight but there is still a 1/2 twist in this one. Cost was around $80 and am not convinced it was worth it.
I also machined holes on the stations. Each station has two small .250 diameter partial holes on the exterior that are used to mark the sheerline. There are also two 1.06 holes that are made on the stations attached to the center beam. These are to be used with threaded pipes used with pipe clamps (sold at home depot and inexpensive). The principle is fairly simple. Attach two stations to the beam, pass the pipes through the holes and keep moving these to each new station. Mine are 6 feet long so I can get about 5 stations aligned. It is not perfect but reasonably accurate for the kayak.
It might be interesting to note that many signmaking shops can run the gcode file direct as well as some cabinet making shops. Cutting time at 50 ipm is around 45 minutes or so and setup is fairly quick and a .250 inch bit is used.
Hopefully this can be of use.
And about the construction:
I have used numerous kinds of wood. I used black walnut (it looks gray in the pictures) and the reddish-orange wood used as accent strips in the middle of the walnut and on the keel strip is some tropical wood that I picked up a few years ago but forgot the name. I had bought it to make the inserts for my infill planes but never got to it. The brown wood from the sheerline up is mahogany cut into .375 strips on account of curvature of the forms. The white strips are poplar. I have also used cherry (1 strip below the sheerline as I felt cedar would be weak as I left the cove on the board to facilitate re-assembling the forms) and for the long strips that form the template for the stern, bow and keel. I laminated 4 very narrow strips and glued them when installing them to facilitate bending.
…I mounted a ridge about .75 by .75 inches along the entire bottom of the hull. A bit like a canoe. It tracks well but it acts like a long skeg. As a result, I am considering mounting a rudder.
I am very pleased with the kayak. Thanks again for your help and a wonderful design.
Thanks for building Darren!
Mike Blandford, New York
Launched: March 2008
I built it for my son but I crammed myself into it and launched it in the Chemung River yesterday – I’m 6’6″, 240 lbs. w/ size 15 feet. I was so uncomfortable that I probably won’t get into it again, but I had to see first-hand how it performed. It’s a good boat. It’s fast, tracks straight, and turns on a dime. I had fun paddling it and I know that my son will really like it. The last 2 pictures were taken by my wife when we launched yesterday. She’s even less qualified than me with a camera. In the last picture, my son is on the right in a 14′ Auk (Opens in a New Window) that I built last year for my wife.
I used a combination of cedar and maple. It has a Happy Bottom seat w/ a Rapid Pulse back band and 1 large hatch w/ a Kajak Sport lid.
Thanks for the plans. Glad I picked them up.
Jason Bowling, Ohio
Launched: July 2008
Video from 2010:
I’m enjoying the boat very much – the 14 miles went well, with very little effort. A number of people stopped to tell me how nice they thought it looked.. you really have a nice design there.
Above two photos courtesy William Sebastian Photo (Opens in a New Window).
JD Greenawalt, Texas
Launched: Build in Progress
I went with some 18′ long spruce 1.5″s because it was cheap. I think I will dye it with some alcohol or water based dye. It would have been a little easier to fit the curves with like .7″ wide strips or 1″ but I got lazy with the table saw… (It was only like 102 degrees F, I waited a long time for such a cool day in Texas. Yeah right) Also they didn’t have 1″ spruce in 18′ sections and for the hull it has been fitting the curves pretty well. When I rip more strips for the deck there are more defined curves and I think I will use thinner strips like 1″ or even .7″.