Photo: Jonathan W. Brown
Do you have ten minutes to spare, a wad of cash and a 3D printer at your disposal? If so, you could be the lucky owner of a brand new, superhero-like “underwater jetpack” created by a design student at Loughborough University in the UK.
Archie O’Brien had long envisioned a portable and wearable pack that would propel swimmers through water without any effort on their part. So he collaborated with 3D printing company 3D Hubs to build CUDA, a fully submersible underwater jetpack, which contains roughly 45 3D printed parts in total and can be printed to completion quicker than it takes to make a cup of coffee.
On the surface, CUDA appears to work similar to a jet ski, which propels itself by “sucking in” water and shooting it out the back for thrust. However, CUDA instead uses a more compact propulsion system O’Brien custom-designed, powered by a 3D-printed impeller reinforced with carbon fiber.
The battery-powered jet pack currently can reach a maximum of 8 miles per hour. However, users can control the speed with a hand-held trigger system if they feel the need to go slower. O’Brien hopes his invention will be used for more than just fun. He’d like to see it employed by search and rescue teams in addition to underwater research.
Plans are currently in the works to put CUDA into production by early 2019. While O’Brien says he doesn’t know how much he’ll charge for the underwater jetpack, it’s not expected to be very affordable initially, considering the cost of building the thing was over $17,000.