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Our umbrella story: collecting drops of rain or hope?

There may not be a need for explanation on the importance of water for life, I am sure we all have met a day that made us realize that we just cannot sustain without water. It may just be a day when water is not running in your tap and you just need to bathe or when you desperately need to buy a bottle of water on a hot sunny shopping day and don’t forget that morning after drinking some extra couple of beers at night, when you can gulp down all the water of Frazer river! Nevertheless, water is a very favorable liquid for supporting life but what if we run out of it? It may sound vacuous but the truth is water shortage is becoming one of the major global concerns. About 1.1 billion people lack access to water and 2.7 billion experience water scarcity at least one month a year.

Toronto students with umbrella prototype

Students showcasing Aquabrella

Every day we use gallons and gallons of water without even realizing that water scarcity may be awaiting us in the near future. The truth is rivers are drying up as forests and water bodies are being destroyed by urbanization and industrialization. Due to extensive water supply systems we may have forgotten that the places like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Chad including many other countries in the African continent are facing severe water shortage and some of them don’t even have the access to clean drinking water.


It is the time we do something about it, even if it’s a small step towards the big goal of preserving and saving mother nature. Why not start saving water by rain harvesting? Rainwater is considered safe for drinking and as a matter of fact rainwater is the water supply for much of the world’s population and is even better than public drinking water supply, this is because when rainwater touches the ground it gets contaminated with bacteria, pollen, mold etc. therefore collecting it before its contact with the surface is a better idea than the same water undergoing cycles of purification over and over again. Canada gets a considerable amount of rainfall every year, singly Toronto reaches the average rainfall of more than 30 inches annually. Just imagine if we are able to save even 1% of this water.


Custom prototypes tried to be a part of this big change by offering free prototyping and designing services to a team of Toronto students who approached us with a vague idea of rainwater harvesting. The idea was to develop a prototype of an umbrella with the mechanism to collect pure fresh rainwater. To transform this idea into a reality seemed a little complex but this is what we are best at, transformations and inventions. In addition to our 3D printing service, it required a lot of manual work that included making and attaching canal shaped pouches at the tips of the umbrella that would pass through right amount of water into to the tubes and lead the rainwater into the bottle attached to the trunk of the umbrella. After completion, the prototype was presented to the students, they seemed pretty pleased with it and named it “The Aquabrella.”

Umbrella with bottle