What problems came up in designing the first PLA hulls? Making them watertight. While conventional 3D printing is fantastic at making strong and unique structures above water, once submerged, PLA becomes waterlogged and leaky. We tested several methods of printing and treating PLA and discovered that, despite the highest print settings we could manage, water can always slip in between the microscopic hulls within the prints.
Our solution is to treat the hulls with 2 part resin after they print. While our first tests were messy and poorly cast, they proved extremely watertight! Our first tests included placing paper towels within the hulls to find any leaks when submerged. After 3 days of being submersed the pieces were sawed in half and the paper was dry as a bone!
We then began printing larger versions with press to fit joints. To assist in our full size conceptualizations we printed “Humungo,” the first full size print of a hull. This next week we will be concluding hull designs and printing the first hull to be tested with a vacuum for leaks.