Challenge and solution

Challenge

Challenge

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.

Solution

Solution

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.

Solutions comparison

Ultimaker 3D printers

External suppliers

Costs Cost of filament only. Costs Initial 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.
Time Can produce multiple custom parts per printing platter to keep pace with current beta production needs. Time Weeks, part orders must be planned ahead and stock up to serve evolving needs of active growing systems.
Iterations 1-5 iterations per part Iterations 5-10 iterations per part

“The plant pods we 3D printed in-house are already on view in the Farmshelf units installed in Grand Central Station. These had to look like finished parts from the start.” -- Andrew Shearer

Results

Functional prototypes

Functional prototypes

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.

3D printing functional prototypes
Customizable design

Customizable design

Having on-site part design and production in the same facility decreases huge amounts of time associated with traditional manufacturing and parts sourcing drastically.

3D printing end-use parts
Freedom in design

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.

Freedom in design thanks to 3D printing
Product expansion

Product expansion

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.

3D printing in product design

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