A 3D Printer Big Enough To Print A Kayak

When one of your design goals for a 3D printer is “fits through standard doors,” you know you’re going to be able to print some pretty big stuff. And given that the TAUT ONE printer by [Nathan Brüchner] could easily be mistaken for a phone booth, we’d say it’ll be turning out some interesting prints.

The genesis for this beast of a printer came from the Before Times, with the idea of printing a kayak. [Nathan] leveraged his lowdown time to make it happen, going through three prototypes. Each featured a print bed of 1,000 mm x 550 mm with 1,100 mm of Z-height, and the overall footprint fits a standard Euro-pallet. It uses a CoreXY design to move the dual-filament hot end, which has ducting for taking cooling air from outside the cabinet. And the machine has all the bells and whistles — WiFi, an internal camera, filament sensors, and a range of environmental controls.

In a nod to making it easier to build, [Nathan] kept all the custom parts either laser cut or 3D-printed — no mill or lathe required. He also points out that he used only quality components, which shows in the price — about 3,000€. That seems like a lot to be able to print kayaks that you can buy for fraction of that amount, but we certainly appreciate the potential of this printer, and the effort that went into making it work.

43 thoughts on “A 3D Printer Big Enough To Print A Kayak

  1. Not to belittle this accomplishment but this strikes me as something better suited for another technique like vacuum forming. Hmm… I just looked up how they are made professionally and vacuum forming is used to make the hull.

    1. The original article mentions that the 3D printed ones are for prototyping. Presumably, you’d print one, see if it handles well in the water, then make the forms you need for vacuum forming the series models.

    2. I believe rotomolding is more commonly used for kayaks and other hollow items, than vacuum forming. Vaccum forming can only make half of a kayak (at most), so you would have to join the halves. You skip that step with rotomolding–you just cut open the holes (which you would also have to do with vacuum forming). Rotomolding has the added benefit of a more consistent wall thickness at the stretched points.

      1. You are both right
        Rotomolding is used to make kayaks for beginners (mainly, for freestylers too)
        For high performance kayaks, we always use vaccum forming. Mine is made with carbon fiber and epoxy resin and is very stiff. It’s also 5m long for one person. It weights around 11kg without the weights you need to add for competitions. The ones made for long distances are around 8kg but are very “soft”

        We need the boat to be very very stiff, even glass fiber acts like chewing gum when you are on water, so imagine plastic
        There is not one discipline in kayak but dozens. I did sprint, where the 4 people boats can reach 30kg and 11m. But there is also freestyle, slalom, river (in french we say “descente” but I don’t know the name in English), polo and a lot more. In each of them, plastic for beginners, carbon fiber for others

        One more thing, I don’t think that it’s a good idea to prototype with plastic, at least for the kayaks that will be made with composites. The stiffness is very important, even more than the shape

        1. I have never heard of vacuum forming for carbon fiber. Are you mixing it up with the vacuum bagging typically used during cure? They’re very different processes. The prior actually lends a product shape, the latter just improves structural properties of a composite part after it’s been laid up onto a form.

  2. Focusing on the kayak missing the forest for the trees. The takeaway here is the scaleability and adaptability of established 3D printer parts, software and methods.

    1. i think the kayak example shows very well the limits of the scaleability and adaptability of 3d printing…it takes a very long time, incurs a great expense in filament, presumably requires quite a bit of babysitting, and the end product isn’t usable. for large things, traditional fdm with a less than 1mm layer height and “cheap” plastic fails to scale. that’s the point.

      for large things, i don’t think you really want to use the same approach that i find so satisfying with my tiny benchtop printer. i think you want to do something quite different. and the kayak is a particularly great example because it showcases the fact that large objects have structural requiremnts that aren’t really compatible with layer adhesion strength limits.

      i’d think you’d probably want something much much much faster and cheaper at printing, which you could use to make a mold (the mold might even remain in the finished product)…now that would really be something!

      1. Sadly, no. A recreation kayak weighs about 16kg. I don’t know what bulk filament costs, but let’s say it’s $14 per kg. That’s $224 per kayak, assuming no waste (unlikely), and hence at most $76 profit. To get back the $3K investment, you’d need to sell at least 40 kayaks, and that’s not counting electricity and wear and tear on the printer. And I bet it takes a very, very long time to print a kayak

          1. Got relatives that say it’s a thankless job, make sure everything adds up and there are beans in the bank for 400 trouble free pay days in a row, then the software has a forced “upgrade” and shorts people an hour over the summertime change, and you must be in league with the devil.

        1. I will never get the investment back…(-: It took me so many hours to develop, debugg and finish it. The filamentcosts are the main problem… To print a 2.7m whitewater kayak prototype in vase Mode with a 1.8mm Nozzle and 0.7mm Layerheight it takes around 3-4 days.

          1. Rapid prototyping service.

            In that size range, the service is going to be expensive.
            Don’t be too cheap or they won’t take you seriously.
            Cater to the artsy types. They love to ‘hold the thing’.
            Get a 3d scanner so you don’t depend on them having computer models. Scan the model, scale it up.

            Get cash up front to cover your costs.
            Charge to make the computer model.
            Charge lots.
            No more.
            The highest number you can say without giggling like a little child.
            You’re better than any GD lawyer, charge like you believe it.

            ‘They’ were all lucky to get together with their money in the first place. The most ethical and moral outcome is for the money to serve it’s best utility. By def, for you, that’s for you to have it ALL. Personal (not social) utilitarianism.

          2. Much sympathies. You might, if you polish up the details and sell kits on the side for a few years or something. I spent way too much on my openerv project, openerv.org. I did learn a lot and it did work ok in the end, but I did spend too much on it, time and money.

            I think this could turn out ok though, don’t give up now

  3. This could be used to prototype those hideous body kits for souped up drift cars.

    Or you know, recreate the unavailable factory body part.

    It would be cool to have an undertray to reduce your drag or increase your downforce, this machine could print those.

    Very cool, many applocations.

    Could even print a whole custom dashboard or body panels for a motorcycle EV conversion! Many uses, much wow

  4. For all the peeps that just wanna get on the water cheap, you really just need to cut wood and ziptie it together, glass and epoxy the seams, coat it and off you go to your inevitable watery death (Just kidding, but be careful, some eejut canoeists, kayakers, paddle boarders are all like “It’s not a boat so I don’t have to abide by boating safety regs” umm, yes you do.)

    Some free plans linked here. https://www.christinedemerchant.com/free-canoe-kayak-boat-plans.html

    It’s often better if you’re not an experienced woodworker, the lack of right angles, mortice and tenon joints and dovetails will set off their OCD.

    1. I guess I should mention for the uninitiated that the style of construction I referred to there is “stitch and glue” commonly addended to “in plywood”. AKA “new instant boat” style. It was firstly introduced using soft copper wire as the “stitches” but the wide avalability of cheap zip ties has made those the latest “upgrade” to the method. If you hate epoxy look up “poor mans fiberglass” aka PMF.

  5. Kayaks aren’t made of plastic. There’s a framework, I imagine originally bones, then some sort of fabric or skin. Canoes were made similarly, but wood available for the frame. But others hollowed out a log, I don’t know if that’s a geographic difference or if one came first.

    “The Starship and the Canoe” by Kenneth Bower is about George Dyson, and his kayaks, and his father Freeman, and his Project Orion. Not a howto book, but insight into modern kayak making. It’s quite neat. George wrote a book or two about kayaks, and one about building them

  6. I am no professional when it comes to 3d printing but it seems a printer capable of this size and all is a step forward. Wether you can print kayaks cheaper than a Walmart rotomolded kayak is irrelevant. The article clearly states that fact and I’m sure it can be used for many other uses including bringing internet trolls out if the woodwork

  7. I dislike the comment about being able to buy a kayak for less than that… It’s not really respecting that you can make a great many kayaks with the machine, and importantly, many more things besides.

    However a legit point may be that the cost of the collagen he is actually larger than that if a kayak, probably.

    Even though fdm printing is remarkably cheap it’s still too expensive to do a lot of the things we want to do. It’s bizarre that you can’t get filament for cheap even if you buy bulk. It’s not fundamentally that expensive. So we have to turn to pellet extruders, which have their own problems although it’s not fundamentally such a bad idea.

    A machine with a pellet extruder for making large objects esp from recycled material could be pretty sensible.
    You generate your kayak over a month or something and can sell it for $1000 or something, if it weighs 20 kg and you got the plastic for $5 per kg, that’s a reasonable business. Just churn em out as a side hustle, that’s reasonable.

    Fdm isn’t really accurate enough for small precision objects, so pushing the speed and economics into larger objects which are still kind of expensive makes sense.

    1. You are right, its expensive and you also can’t use the cheapest filaments… A pellet extruder would reduce the costs. I never used one and as far as my google research digged down – they have also their downsides. But I had that also in mind during the design and it should be possible to test them in my design. 40kg of PET-powder are already stored in the basement…. Mahor XYZ is one of the candidates. Maybe in the winter….

  8. that isnt that that much money if you think you can do like 20 boats and it costs as much as boying these but im wondering what boat form that is? couse it looks a lot like a dagger axion

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