Julia Meyer’s project started as a challenge to create a portable, easy-to-store kayak. The kayak she developed features a lightweight design that collapses down to the size of a backpack for easy portability. Other benefits of this design include the ease of assembly and disassembly, low cost, and the use of easily available materials.
The final kayak design consisted of six ribs of glass fiber composite, five aluminum hull poles, two 3-D printed end caps, and a textile outer skin. Zipper openings at both ends of the kayak are provided for the user to access the end caps. From one of these ends the 5 poles could be slid in or out of the skin of the kayak. The poles are made of small sections of pole held together by shock cord, much like tent poles.
Since the kayak is meant for beginners, Julia modeled it on a flat-bottom design. This allows it to be stable without compromising its maneuverability or speed capabilities. Digital flow simulations were conducted to test the hull design. The situation Julia tested was based on the maximum speed a kayaker would typically be traveling, or approximately three meters per second. Both the pressure and velocity simulations indicated a streamlined, practical design.