Sounds pretty crazy, but yes, you can print parts you need for homemade hydroponics system using the 3Dponics App for 3D printers. The first thing that came to mind when I saw it this was wondering why anyone would even want to do that. It’s not like recycling or repurposing where the materials are free or super cheap. A 3D printer is an expensive machine, and the filament isn’t cheap, especially since it would be wise to insist that it’s a food-grade plastic. This means you want the PET filament which will sit you back almost double what the least costly spools will.
So, why would you spend over $40 plus the cost of a 3D printer to make your own hydroponics stuff? Actually, its part recycled and part printed, which is great, though not earth shattering since people have been using recycled 2-liter Coke bottles for inexpensive, compact growing systems for years. For anyone focused on reducing what goes to landfills by recycling, the sustainability factor might override the cost incurred. It’s not like they’re disposable parts, you can use them repeatedly for years. Besides, this approach to growing your own food means having some engineering ingenuity and an idea of what to source to put your homemade indoor garden together. So, a lot of people probably tried growing their own food with a cobbled together system, and gave up when it just wasn’t working out. But the 3Dponics app does away with all these frustrations and difficulties.
Mind you – it will not increase the light available in that ‘sunny window’ to your garden’s energy requirements, but it will give you the missing quotient to making your own customized hydroponic system parts. Configure those used pop bottles and Rubbermaid bins to your heart’s desire 🙂
Yes, you can buy net pots at every hydro shop in town, or order them online. But none of them are made for recycled bottles, which leaves the recycled hydro system crowd scratching their heads, wasting time trying to figure out how to solve this, and many other issues that arise. Totally understandable. It’s all part of a reinventing the wheel scenario. Not anymore. There’s a free Coke bottle net pot replacement design ready and waiting for you at MakerBot’s Thingiverse website.
In fact, just about every part the average Coke bottle hydroponics system needs has already been designed for you. It’s free to get those, and free to create new designs, or customize the ones that already exist. Thingiverse is open source, and one of the beauties about all of this is that no matter how remote or disconnected you are from the rest of society is that you can create just about anything on a 3D printer… as long as you have one, or know someone who does. Or – you can order the part you need online from 3D printing operations.
But wait, aren’t those fake plants in that picture at the top? Yep. That image was taken at the Maker’s Faire in 2014. It’s just to show what is possible, and not the place for a running growing system. The rest of these images are from one of the 3Dponics guys recycled bottle garden. We found them all when checking out the various hydro system part designs that are available for instant download and printing on Thingiverse.
3Dponics is being used in schools in the US and Canada, which is a great learning experience for science, math, engineering, and technology studies. Their automated operating system runs on SAAS, is web-based, and is being adopted for super-techy indoor gardens and even farm growing system automation.
Getting more out of being a sustainable citizen just got really cool. It’s a recycled and high tech merger. By the way, you can also use this to make custom parts for aeroponic and aquaponic systems too.
Check it out: