Back in 1956 “formicariums,” ant habitats, were hand made and you could only find them in classrooms and natural history museums. But all that changed when the man who made the words “ant farm” an enduring brand found his calling.
Now the GroTube XL, version two of the GroTube, is “a multi-material starter formicarium consisting of a nest area and a detachable foraging area, designed and manufactured by byFormica,” and it’s 3D printed.
But it all began when “Uncle” Milton Levine came home from the war to found a mail-order novelty company. The inspiration for the first commercially-popular ant farm came when Levine attended a Fourth of July barbecue in 1956 and noticed a group of ants marching in and out of a crack in a swimming pool. He recalled how fascinated he’d been as a young boy with watching ants, so he and a partner put together their first mail-order ant farm kits from a plastic box, a bag of sand, and a vial of live ants.
The idea took off, and Uncle Milton found himself in the enviable position of having to hire “ant pickers” to supply the demand. Later iterations of the toy saw the sand replaced with volcanic gravel and the box engraved with a classic farm scene. Uncle Milton passed away in 2011, though not before seeing classic versions of his gravel ant farms make a comeback among kids just in time for the 50th anniversary of his invention.
And now Terry Miller of Atlanta, GA, has taken up Uncle Milton’s dream with the GroTube XL. It’s a formicarium which defines wet and dry nest areas to allow for water to be injected into either a right or left reservoir, and the nest is kept properly moist using a small piece of PVA sponge embedded into gypsum stone.
The GroTube XL is 3D printed in polyamide, and then molded and cast in solid plastic resin. The company says the product is an “experimental micro formicarium (which) shows what is possible with 3D printing.” It also includes replaceable, 3D printed modules which are available for download on Thingiverse or for purchase on Amazon.com.
The company says production is underway with two styles available: a pink housing, and a single white prototype unit which is priced less than the final retail units. They say additional styles and new housing colors such as yellow and grey will be made available for sale on or after May 8 of this year.
You can get your hands on one, and make some ants and their child masters very happy, for $29 plus shipping and handling.
What do you think of the 3D printed GroTube XL? Is it a worthy successor to Uncle Milton Levine’s Ant Farm? Let us know in the 3D Printed Ant Farm forum thread on 3DPB.com.
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and recieve information and offers from thrid party vendors.
You May Also Like
NASA Funds 3D Printing Research in 2022 SBIR/STTR Awards
Out of 333 proposals that NASA is funding as part of its 2022 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, 24 are either creating new...
House 3D Printing, Bacterial Materials, and More Awarded by 3D Pioneers Challenge
The 3D Pioneers Challenge awards the best and most innovative breakthrough projects in 3D printing. This year, the jury selected projects from around the world across several categories, including medtech,...
200 3D Printed Houses Planned by Alquist 3D and Black Buffalo
Alquist 3D is a Virginia-based additive construction (AC) company, specializing in printing affordable, cement-based residential homes. Earlier this year, we covered a story about Alquist printing the first owner-occupied residential...
World’s Largest Concrete 3D Printing Facility Opened by GE Renewable Energy
The more that the renewable energy and additive manufacturing (AM) sectors evolve, the clearer it becomes how much the two industries have to offer one another. So far, this has...