Cost-effective custom parts for an urban farm systemThes3D
The Farmshelf team created a fully autonomous, highly-productive urban farming system within tight physical constraints. By making use of Ultimaker 2+ professional desktop 3D printers, Farmshelf were able to iterate designs and print hundreds of functional custom parts which would have been extremely time-consuming and expensive using any other fabrication technique.
“Professional desktop 3D printers are so cost-effective now that you don’t need to look at the cost per part beyond the cost for filament. And, it is affordable to build small production batch runs with printed parts—something that five years ago was impossible.”Andrew Shearer, CEO / Co-Founder, Farmshelf
Farmshelf’s flagship product had significant engineering requirements for mounting brackets, cable and air management, and plant housings; which could not be accomplished with off-the-shelf parts. Given the quantity of customized iterative parts required while validating their solution, traditional fabrication methods would have been too expensive for the company to sustain growth.
Ultimaker professional desktop 3D printers allowed Farmshelf to continue evolving custom part designs, while also meeting short-run production needs for early adopter units already installed in full public view. Incorporating Ultimaker into their processes provided a cost-friendly solution that streamlined the testing and prototyping stages of production.
Farmshelf 3D printed plant pods
Our desktop 3D printing solution for custom parts made it possible to integrate preferred peat moss cubes necessary for the high performance of the system.
Ultimaker 3D printers
|CostsCost of filament only.||CostsInitial setup costs for each individual part design. Costs for materials and supplies. Service costs for completing production run. Any additional features multiply set up and service fees per Farmshelf unit.|
|TimeCan produce multiple custom parts per printing platter to keep pace with current beta production needs.||TimeWeeks, part orders must be planned ahead and stock up to serve evolving needs of active growing systems.|
Freedom in design
3D printing enables designers to have more freedom in product design compared to traditional manufacturing methods, which makes it easier to tackle real-world problems.
Producing inexpensive desktop 3D printed custom parts permits immediate testing for entire growth cycles—to validate or invalidate a design pathway based on real-world data.
Having on-site part design and production in the same facility decreases huge amounts of time associated with traditional manufacturing and parts sourcing drastically.
The ability to produce fully-functional units in-house using desktop 3D printing allowed Farmshelf to install their automated systems at a number of sites in public while still in beta.