23-year-old maker and internet sensation Naomi Wu a.k.a. “SexyCyborg” is making waves with her newest DIY project: a 3D printed bikini top. Designed specifically for a 4th of July party, Wu created the fashion-meets-tech piece in red, white and blue, with custom made TPU plastic cups coated in silicon for extra comfort.
Don’t let the simply titled YouTube video (“3D Printed Bikini Top-and Yes It's Comfortable!”) fool you though: there’s a lot more going on with this young maker than meets the eye. Hailing from Shenzhen, China, which is known widely as the “Silicon Valley of Hardware”, Wu immediately sets herself apart from her contemporaries in a number of ways. As a web developer and hardware enthusiast who’s also a young woman, Wu claims the lofty title of Mainland China’s only female Maker hobbyist producing since 2015.
“I'm well known in my city for my eccentric appearance and dressing a bit crazy,” Wu writes on her website. “It's just for fun and everyone here loves it since it's only very recently that we've started to have the sort of creative local culture that allows for individual expression like this.”
Wu continues, “I know it can seem a bit odd by Western standards but it's not disrespectful or frowned upon here... it makes me very happy and I still post lots of tech stuff.”
As a builder of FashionTech Wearables, a local leader in Open Source making, and a 3D printing enthusiast who’s devoted to encouraging women to become more technically proficient, Wu’s brand of progressive politics could make some followers uncomfortable.
But ultimately, the Shenzen-based creative does it for herself. “I’ve done these things without any sort of compensation, just as a hobby for over two years,” she explains. The reason? Wu is passionate about tech, making things, and letting others know what life is like in her corner of the globe.
In this sense, the young maker is playing an important role in the larger project of disrupting stereotypes while simultaneously encouraging innovation. “If we can stop copying so much and develop our own creative culture in China - that helps the US and other Western countries a lot also,” Wu reasons. From her perspective, if other Chinese makers can see the value of creativity and making things your own way, that will go a long way towards reconsidering a culture that often favours copying, replication, and mass production.
Recently, Wu decided to make a second version of her 3D printed bikini to not only wear around, but to actually use and wear in the sun, heat, and water.
The minuscule two-piece, which now includes a pair of tiny 3D printed bottoms, actually seemed to fair quite well in a video posted by SexyCyborg last week.
In the video, Wu walks around an outdoor pool showing us that the 3D printed bathing suit can a) actually stay on and b) be worn in the water!
While we don't know how useful or comfortable the 3D printed bikini would be for, say, swimming laps, it certainly does its job while the nearly-nude maker lounges on a unicorn blow-up and walks in and around the pool area.
In a comment on her Youtube video, Wu does note that because the bikini is made from a non-breathable plastic material, she only wears it for a few hours at a time. She also makes a point to note that the 3D printed bottoms are actually quite comfortable.
"I just forgot about it after I put it on, but it's airtight so probably not healthy to wear for more than a few hours," she says.