Riverside, California – A bikini, partly printed in 3D, is capable of cleaning the pollution out of the water in which it’s immersed. The invention, made by Mihri Ozkan and her husband Cengiz from the University of California, Riverside, won the first prize in the Reshape15: Wearable Technology Competition.
The material, called Sponge, is a derived from heated sucrose, a form of sugar. The reusable material has a highly porous structure that repels water, as it absorbs contaminating substances, capable of containing up to 25 times its own weight —depending on the density of the material absorbed.
Researchers remarked the advantage of this type of material, stating that it is not harmful to the environment and that its low cost makes it effective to produce.
The bikini is not the final product itself: it was made to prove the effectiveness of the material in a creative way. In fact, the bathing suit idea came from Eray Carbajo, and architect and designer from New York.
The engineering couple spent about 4 years developing the material to clean oil and chemical spills, aiming to fight the worldwide pollution of the oceans.
The materials absorbed by the Sponge are not released, unless the material is heated up to 1,000 degrees Celsius. This allows the Sponge to be recyclable, as it is reshaped after being separated from contaminants. The Sponge fits into a 3D frame, printed out of plastic.
“This design can be developed into different outfits: bathing suits, mayokini, swimming caps. 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 team said according to 3D Print.
Reshaping the ecological technology
Reshape, according to the website, is an online platform that encourages people on educating, researching and the developing of digital ideas. It offers an online market in which designers sell their products and ideas, giving them the possibility of having a prototype made by the Reshape community.
“Reprogrammability, recyclability and affordability are intriguing properties of the technology, allowing room for further research and development in clean-tech wearable,” Reshape stated on their website.