Components of the Spongesuit bikini. Illustration credit: Eray Carbajo
Would you wear a bikini to help clean the environment? Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a special material called Sponge to clean the water as a person swims.The material is made from a form of sugar and repels water while absorbing contaminants. The Sponge material is formed into the shape of a bikini and encapsulated it in a net-like cage made of 3D-printed elastomer. It can absorb 25x it’s own weight with the contaminants stored in the inner layers away from the kin and it won’t release them unless heated over 1,000 degrees! The design won first place at the Reshape 15 Wearable Technology Competition. The Sponge technology was designed by Mihri Ozkan along with her husband and fellow engineering professor, Cengiz Ozkan, student Daisy Patino, and recent graduate Hamed Bay. The idea to incorporate the material into wearable technology came from partners at Eray Carbajo, an architecture and design firm based in New York City and Istanbul.
We love uses of 3D printing for environmental benefit! When we first saw this I had some safety concerns of essentially hugging toxins so close to “sensitive” parts of the body, but the design of Sponge appears to take care of that (plus you’re already swimming through them anyway). The 3D printing provides an efficient and easily customization for a great new technology. You can read all the details in this press release and here’s a great video about the bikini!