Printing a boat made out of milk jugs

Today, groups from all over the Pacific Northwest will take up their oars and head over to Green Lake for the 42nd annual Seafair Milk Carton derby. The team who builds the fastest boat made out of milk cartons wins the regatta (and $10,000). This year, we’d put our money on the 3D printer group from the University of Washington; they printed a boat large enough to carry a person using crushed melted milk jugs.

After building a huge extruder to feed shredded HDPE plastic through a nozzle, the team repurposed an old plasma cutter to serve as an 8-foot-long 3D printer. There were a number of problems the team ran into – getting layers to fuse together, finding a suitable printing surface, and perfecting the art of squeezing melted milk jugs through a heated metal tube – but the final result is impressive, to say the least.

As far as how lake-worthy the UW team’s boat is, we have no idea. The milk jug regatta will be held later today, and if you have an update of how the team fared, send us a tip.

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