3D Printed Connectors Make This Startup’s Sustainable Indoor Garden Grow

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The first time we planted a garden in our backyard, I couldn’t get enough of watching the vegetables grow. I would go out in the yard and gently move aside the leaves to get a glimpse of the tiny green beans that were getting bigger every day. We had an abundance of tomatoes that year – so much that the cages were starting to bend from the weight. At the time, I had friends who lived in an apartment and were unable to garden outside, so they grew tomatoes indoors in one of those hanging garden set-ups. Hexagro Urban Farming, an Italian startup, is working to innovate urban farming, and this same kind of hanging garden, using 3D printing technology.

The Milan-based startup works to develop scalable, sustainable, and sharing economy-based solutions, so customers can improve their production and supply of fresh, healthy, home-grown food. Last month, Hexagro launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Katana platform, which runs through New Year’s Eve, for its sustainable Living Farming Tree – an attractive, maintenance-free indoor garden, complete with 3D printed connectors.

The Living Farming Tree aims to bring nature from the outside to the inside of any workplace, like businesses, hotels, and restaurants, where its air-cleaning plants and healthy vegetables can enhance the well-being of the people there.

Irish 3D printing company Wazp, which worked with IKEA this summer on its first mass-produced 3D printed collection of home objects, also announced a partnership with the Hexagro startup for the Living Farming Tree, in order to provide a sustainable, socially responsible solution that could work in the catering industry.

“This partnership is a notable example of how 3d printing can facilitate innovative companies, like Hexagro, scale; by enabling stock-purchasing to be critically managed at the early stage of a business, so that essential capital is not tied up in stocks, while also giving a long-term option for commercial production,” said Wazp Product Development Manager Daniel Barrett. “Working with the Hexagro team is an exciting opportunity for us, to be a part of a new and innovative approach to a more sustainable farming future for countries around the world, which will be a global success.”

The Living Farming Tree is available in three size options:

  • 4 Module Kit with 24 vases
  • 7 Module Kit with 42 vases
  • 13 Module Kit with 78 vases

The connectors for the modules are 3D printed, so that the design of the Living Farming Tree system is adaptable, modular, and scalable – thus making it possible for any person to bring nature into their own space, whether it’s at work or home.

(L-R) Hexagro Urban Farming Team: Felipe Hernandez, Alessandro Grampa, Milica Mladenovic, Arturo Montufar

“We are glad to have found a partner that can help us in developing our 3D printed parts for prototyping and early fulfillment,” said Alessandro Grampa, CMO and Business Development at Hexagro. “This will allow us to maintain a dynamic product development, adapting to customer needs and feedback. Thanks to Wazp high-quality technology, we can provide our clients with the best modular and scalable farming systems adaptable to any of their indoor environments.”

By utilizing 3D printing technology to manufacture the module connectors, they can be scaled up to increase production, making the system adaptable to different kinds of crops; they also have a modular design, so the system can be customized to fit in any space. The system includes an automated monitoring device, which uses data analysis and dedicated crop planning software to adapt the Living Farming Tree to individual environmental conditions; it also comes with LED lights and an automatic irrigation system. According to the startup, the best crops for the Living Farming Tree include herbs like basil, mint, and oregano, and leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, and lettuce.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen 3D printing technology used to augment urban gardens, and by taking advantage of the benefits that 3D design and scalable production that Wazp’s supply chain solution offers, Hexagro will be able to bring the Living Farming Tree to the market faster, while also improving the system by listening to, and implementing, customer feedback and needs.

Speaking of customers, there are still super early bird rewards left on the Living Farm Tree’s Katana campaign – a pledge of €549 (a 30% discount from the retail price) will get you one of the first small configurations of the system, which includes a water pump, nutrient container, monitoring system, irrigation system, four LED lamps, four farming modules, 11 3D printed global connectors, and one app, with included user credentials.

The Living Farm Tree has been shortlisted for the Katana Opencircle Project, part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 initiative.

Let us know what you think about this, and other 3D printing topics, at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

[Source/Images: Wazp via LinkedIn]

 

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