3Dponics Introduces the First 3D Printable Hydroponics System by Benjamin Hoopes
“I’m from Russia, I moved to Canada in 2000,” Michael Golubev told me, “Back in the day, in communist times, there was scarcity of food, so the government would distribute pieces of land for Russians to cultivate and keep as their own. My grandparents spent a lot of time on these pieces of land, growing stuff. They call this dacha in Russian”
Why you should get familiar with 3D printing
Golubev is the founder of 3Dponics, an open source, 3D printable hydroponics system. And he’s demonstrating how the forced sharing of communist times in the old Soviet Union can’t compete with voluntary sharing of information, “Anyone can download the files, think of a better way to improve it, and upload it to the community. We’re seeing this evolution of designs, which started from five parts and is now over 100 parts. Eventually, this is going to be the most efficient gardening system in the world.”
By far the easiest way to 3D print is to use a 3D printing service. Services will generally charge a fee for their labor, which starts around $30. You’ll also need to pay for the materials, which for the basic 3Dponics four-pot system, costs around $20.
Similar to Legos, the components of the system, once printed, snap into place together. There are many applications, including home gardens, printing a greenhouse for astronauts in outer space, and of course, growing cannabis. 3Dponics recently announced a new relationship with Chuck Rifici, the co-founder of the largest cannabis producer in Canada, Tweed. “I came on as an adviser to help them see where the market might be in Canada. You can’t grow personal production in Canada, but I think that’s a great potential market for 3Dponics. The kind of person that sets up a home garden is the kind of person that likes to doit-yourself,” said Golubev. According to Golubev, “We have a really unique system just for marijuana use, something you won’t be able to do without a 3D printer, but is easily scalable and customizable.”
50 August 2015
We explored some of the methods of 3D printing, looked at the costs and ease of use, and compared them with buying a pre-manufactured hydroponics system. Here’s what we found:
If you’d like to get more hands on, you can head to a maker space. Maker spaces are essentially like a co-working space for tinkerers. I visited the Tinkermill in Longmont, Colorado, which has four 3D printers. They offer classes on how to use them and assistance from staff and other members. Membership is $50/month. The third option, and highest in difficulty level, is to buy your own 3D printer. 3D printers can range from $300 to $3000. You’ll also need to buy a water pump and tubing. The recommended pump for 3Dponics is a Marina 200 air pump, which costs around $15. Tubing is less than a dollar per foot. Purchasing a pre-manufactured system, you’ll find a wide range of prices. In our chart, we compared the cost of printing a 3Dponics system to the cost of buying one of Current Culture’s home systems, which start at $900 and range up to over $5,000. The beauty of 3D printing is the scaling cost. At around $5 in materials for a single-pot system, once you have access to a 3D printer, you can add to your system and print replacement parts at a marginal cost. And the costs are going to keep falling every year as the technology matures.
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