These stunning shots are not a fashion editorial straight out of Vogue. Not yet. However, 3D-printed gills and respiratory masks, may become next seasons must-haves, much sooner than we like.
As temperatures continue to rise, so does the sea level. And unless you've been living under a rock (to stay cool) for the past weeks, you've felt the heat first handed and read some of the horrific articles about the state of the Earth. Thankfully, crisis tends to cultivate creativity so, for a minute, let's just focus on that.
Royal College of Art graduate Jun Kamei has built, Amphibio, a 3D-printed garment consisting of a gill and a respiratory mask designed to allow humans to completely breathe underwater.
Although it currently doesn't produce enough oxygen to sustain human breathing, it is able to successfully extract oxygen from water, and release carbon dioxide back in – meaning it has the potential to be used for breathing. When the ocean rises up and claims the majority of the earth's land, and humans are forced to spend much of their lives in the water, Kamei imagines his garment becoming an essential part of living in the future.
So, how does Amphibio work? A white device positioned around the neck and chest functions as the gill. It is hollow inside and contains air, which can be breathed in and out via the mask, connected to the gill by a tube. The gill accessory is 3D-printed from a microporous hydrophobic material, which supports subaquatic breathing by extracting oxygen from the surrounding water and dissipating the carbon dioxide that accumulates in the system. The microscopic pores in the material allow air to pass through, but stop any water from penetrating it. The designer describes the experience as something in-between scuba diving and snorkling. Water-diving insects that survive underwater served as the source of inspiration.They have superhydrophobic skin, which allows them to hold a thin layer of trapped air in the same manner as a gas-exchanging gill.
The next step is to test the device on humans. Although the current prototype is not developed enough to fully support human breathing on its own, it can function when supplemented by a small gas tank. In the near future, it could allow the wearer to stay underwater longer than in free diving, but with less equipment than used in scuba diving.
Saving the best for last, our favorite part of Amphibio, is the D.I.Y. element. Kamei developed a custom 3D-printing filament to produce this material. The designer suggested that, as 3D-printing technologies become more readily accessible, people could buy access to the file and print garments tailored to their own body.
Thanks Dezeen for sharing this article and interview with the designer!