It seems like every other day that 3D printing is helping to create some new form of revolutionized technology that will help to inspire innovation for years to come. A new material is being introduced by Professors Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan that both repels water, and absorbs pollutants, helping to purify the water it is placed in. Mihri and her husband are professors of Electrical Engineering in California, where two of their students, Daisy Patino and Hamed Bay helped to create the material, aptly named Sponge.
The Sponge Suite, or bikini form of the material was actually created by Eray Carbajo, a design firm in Istanbul and New York, which Dr. Ozkahn worked alongside to create the suite using high-end 3D printing. The design team believes that there is a great future for the idea of wearable technology like the Sponge Bikini, stating that “This design can be developed into different outfits: bathing suits, mayokini, swimming caps. Reprogrammability, recyclability and affordability are intriguing properties of the technology, allowing room for further research and development in clean-tech wearable. We aim for a future where everyone, with any shape and form of swimming outfit, can contribute to the cleanliness of the seas by a sports activity or simply a leisurely summer vacation.” The world would seem to agree, as the bikini was awarded the top spot at this years, Reshape15: Wearable Technology Competition.
But for the Ozkans, the bikni is simply a means to get word of their new material out there. A material that they believe can help re-shape how the world handles oil spills and ocean cleanup. “This is a super material,” explained Dr. Ozkan, “that is not harmful to the environment and very cost effective to produce.” The material can absorb 25 times its own weight and costs only 15 cents a gram to produce, a number that Dr. Ozkan states can be reduced once achieving economies of scale. In this way 3D printing is helping to push the boundaries of what science can achieve, and helping to correct the mistakes of past wayward technology.