3D printed garment Amphibio helps you to breathe underwater

Designer and material scientist Jun Kamei developed Amphibio, a 3D printed amphibious garment that functions as a gill.

By 2100, it’s estimated that the temperature will have risen by 3.2 degrees Celsius, causing a sea level rise that will submerge megacities situated in coastal areas.

Inspired by this dystopian future of a flooded world, Kamei proposes a way for humans to live in an amphibious way, without being constricted by heavy scuba diving equipment.

The Amphibio garment is designed for a future in which humankind lives in close proximity with water. It is made from a special porous, hydrophobic material that supports underwater breathing. Water contains dissolved oxygen. With gills, fish extract the oxygen from the water and extrece carbon dioxide, which is how they breathe. The material by Kamei does something similar, it replenishes oxygen from the surrounding water and dissipates carbon dioxide when the person wearing the mask breathes out. The material can be shaped in complex forms using 3D printing.

The garment consists of a flexible mask and a “gill” around the body, replacing a scuba diving tank. It changes form when air comes in the system. The chambers stay close, so that the only way oxygen can be replenished is through the water. The dissolved oxygen travels from the water into the gill. This allows the wearer to stay underwater longer than when free driving, without the need for heavy gear. It has the potential to be used down to a depth of 10 metres.

The technology was inspired by water diving insects. These creatures survive underwater by trapping a thin layer of air on their super hydrophobic skin, functioning as a gas-exchanging gill.

The gill is developed with a flooded future in mind, but it could also be used during rescue diving missions.

The next step is for Kamei to test Amphibio to support underwater breathing at human scale. Humans need at least 32 square metres to support our oxygen consumption in water.

Amphibio was designed in collaboration with RCA-IIS Tokyo Design Lab, an international collaborative initiative between the Royal College of Art and the University of Tokyo.

Photos: Mikito Tateisi / Jun Kamei