Swim Good

Can We Save the Oceans with a 3D Printed Eco-Bikini?


An innovative idea has the potential to absorb pollution and bring back the beauty of the ocean… in the form of an eco-bikini!

eco-bikiniThe “spongesuit” eco-bikini is designed to absorb pollutants from the ocean while you swim. Mihri Ozkan, a UC Riverside electrical engineering professor, designed the concept and won first prize with it in the Reshape15: Wearable Technology Competition.

“This is a super material that is not harmful to the environment and very cost effective to produce,” Ozkan said.

Although one ec0-bikini may not change the world, it does demonstrate the effectiveness of the material designed by Mihri and her husband, fellow electrical engineering professor Cengiz Ozkan, along with Ph.D. students Daisy Patino and Hamed Bay.

The eco-bikini is made by inserting the Sponge into a 3D printed form made from flexible plastic, called elastomer. It weighs just 54 grams, with a surface area of 250 square centimetres (38.75 square inches), and a thickness of 2mm.

The Sponge can be reused in the ocean up to 20 times without losing its absorbency, while still trapping the contaminants in the pores of the material. This means contaminants don’t come into contact with the wearer’s skin, either.

How does the Eco-Bikini Work?


The material, which began development four years ago, is called Sponge. It is designed specifically for cleaning up oil and chemical spills while desalinating water.

The material is a water-repelling and highly porous carbon material that is light and flexible, and inexpensive to make, absorbing up to 25 times its own weight including everything except water.

The idea to then adapt this material into a bikini came from the architecture and design firm Eray Carbajo, based in New York and Istanbul.

The Eray Carbajo team, Pinar Guvenc, Inanc Eray and Gonzalo Carbajo, worked with Ozkan to design the swimsuit. They wrote:

“The form of the Sponge Suit is inspired by the super-porous, mesh-like structure of the Sponge material. The final form of the 3D print shell was obtained through the various iterations of the same undulating form. The filler amount and the allocation were identified by creating several design alternatives, considering the form and the ergonomics of the human body, while pushing the limits in translucent swimwear design.”

In addition to all of this, the Sponge material only releases the contaminants it has absorbed when it’s heated to temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius!

Perhaps we should all swim in the ocean more often! What do you think? Would you sport one of these to help the planet?