How sugru built the most awesome water pistol...ever?

We love testing the limits of what sugru can do.

Our sugru engineering and material teams are amazing. They can usually be found zipping around all over sugru HQ, testing, experimenting and prototyping, with their snazzy sugru lab coats swooshing behind them. When they're not flexing, sticking and stretching sugru to test just how much it can take, they're dreaming about the future and trying out new ideas. It’s just one of the ways we keep discovering more potential in our magic material all the time. 

We already know that sugru is water resistant, hearing from people everyday who love the fact that sugru is ideal for repairing things that need to be durable outdoors. Raincoats, tents, scuba diving equipment... submarine robots! It's become a key selling point, so we wanted to find out more about its water related properties.

The following project wasn't quite what we had in mind at the start (!) but somewhere in between the serious stuff, the summer heat started to get to us, and we started daydreaming of water pistols... 

One friday afternoon we got to thinking... With all this sugru, and these amazing people, could we create the most impressive water pistol ever made?

Let's have some fun.

Our first idea was to start small and make it good (that sounds familiar). 

We thought about making our own DIY water pistol from everyday items. It was a cool idea, but we thought… NAH! We can do better than that!

Soon the idea had captured the imagination of the whole sugru team. 

Maybe a water crossbow? A bike with pedal powered water pistols attached all over? A spiderman suit with water jets instead of webs? — All of these ideas had potential, but they were still missing that 'something special' that we were after. So we all scratched our heads and kept searching. 

Until Sal went and changed everything...

"err guys...what about a water pistol based on the Gatling gun of the 19th Century?"  

The room went quiet. People started to smile. The design idea for the sugru water pistol was born!

Jude's early sketch hinted at some kind of ghostbusters-esq backpack — oh yes! We were on the right track.

We began researching some of the design history around water pistols, and that’s when ideas really started to fly. Who knew that the inventor of the Super-Soaker was a NASA engineer, Lonnie Johnson, who came up with the continuous pressure system that makes the modern day water gun so great?! 

Here's a clip we found of Lonnie talking about the amazing story behind the best-selling toy. He also does some live demos of his inventions! 

Enter Alex, the design engineer

As the project progressed we reached out to awesome design engineer Alex Bygrave, who is well known in the sugru community. He came on board to help us with the design and build of our sugru soaker. (hmm, that's kind of got a ring to it!) 

Alex set off breaking down the mechanics of how the original Gatling gun works and began finding creative ways to bring our idea to life. The pistol came together super quick and within a couple of weeks it was really taking shape! 

We got very excited. 

Alex has a workspace at Makerversity — an amazing space for makers, experimenters and pioneers on the bank of the River Thames at Somerset House. We love it there.

One night, as Alex worked on the build, he needed a low voltage motor. Where do you get that on a Friday night?! Guess what he did? He found a scrap yard and salvaged a windscreen wiper from a black cab and integrated it into the design to provide its rotary motion - brilliant!

He designed the high flow rate of the water to be powered by CO2 welding canisters (a bit like a soda stream!) pressuring fire extinguishers filled with 10 litres of water! While using other parts you could easily find at your local plumbing shop — like plastic quick connect fittings, chrome copper pipes and PVC pipe fittings!

The idea kept evolving...

We started discussing colour, exploring what makes paintball and colour tagging so much fun. But with six barrels at our disposal in our gatling water pistol, who needed to be limited to one colour?! 

What if we used six different colours? What if we created a rainbow gatling water pistol?! 

We bought food dye... lots of it :) 

How we used sugru to create the Rainbow Gatling sugru Soaker Water Pistol!

As you can see, sugru was used throughout the design of the pistol and helped us really test sugru to the max! We don’t like to rely on theory alone here :) 

We know lots of you will want to know how we did it, so we've created a guide on Instructables that explains the sugru uses in detail — including things like, how to make your own sugru pistons, how to build a sugru injector and insulating switches.

Now to put it to the test!

This project had quickly grown from an R&D testing ground, to something much more dramatic. 

We were so pumped once it was built that we decided to take it up another level — how we could involve the whole sugru team in putting it to the test? 

We needed volunteers. Lots of them!

So we hired a warehouse nearby for a few hours, and the rest... well... take a look at our new video to find out!

We've just got to give a special mention to Andrew, who really took one for the team that day :) 

(if you've seen the video you'll know what we mean!)