Researcher, designer, material scientist and Royal College of Art graduate Jun Kamei introduced AMPHIBIO, a 3D-printed amphibious garment that can function as a gill. On its creation, Kamei explained to 3DPrintingIndustry.com, “I was particularly interested in water diving insects which can survive underwater by virtue of a gill.”
The project started with a need to solve a problem. Imagine if the ocean rises and claims the majority of the earth’s land, and humans are forced to spend much of their lives in the water. How will we survive? Well, Kamei imagines that AMPHIBIO has the potential to not only be used for breathing but also make it possible to become an essential part of living in the future. Kamei’s solution is an optimistic vision of the future, where “humans are free to live in the oceans as well as on land”. Kamei told Dezeen, “The technology was inspired by water-diving insects that survive underwater by way of a thin layer of trapped air on the surface of their superhydrophobic skin, which functions in the same manner as a gas-exchanging gill”.
“The technology was inspired by water-diving insects that survive underwater by way of a thin layer of trapped air on the surface of their superhydrophobic skin”
The white device is a two-part 3D-printed accessory, consisting of a gill and a respiratory. It is worn as a mask on the face, the neck and chest. Hollow inside, the wearable contains air and is connected to the gill by a tube. The gills are 3D printed from a material that is a combination of hydrophobic material, elastomeric material and a few other things that Kamei cannot disclose due to a patent pending. The microporous hydrophobic material supports subaquatic breathing by extracting oxygen from the surrounding water and dissipating the carbon dioxide that accumulates in the system. Kamei explains, “The system is enclosed with an airtight one-way valve. Thus the only way oxygen could be replenished in the gill is through the membrane from the surrounding water.”
Although the device doesn’t currently produce enough oxygen to sustain human breathing, the designer foresees a future where the wearable will be readily available especially when 3D-printing technologies become accessible. “People will be able who buy the filament and then use it to 3d print garments uniquely tailored to their own body shape”, said Kamei.