agriculture 3d printing project

The Mantis - a 3D printed agroforestry marvel

Every Ultimaker is a phenomenal tool for accurate, rapid prototyping. Their amazing features are helping makers around the world to easily bring their ideas to life. One such talented designer is Antoine Blas, a 26 year old design student living in Paris.


Whilst working towards this final thesis in mobility design, Antoine chose to focus his work on agriculture. It was then he came across AGROOF, a consulting firm specialising in agroforestry. If you’re not sure what this is – we weren't either – agroforestry is the combination of crops and trees in the same cultivated field. This creates a habitat for biodiversity and decreases erosion by as much as 80 percent. It also limits the need for chemicals, as trees attract insects that almost eradicate most types of aphids.

While this combination works well and yields the same crop output as traditional farming, it requires a great deal of maintenance by the farmers. Antoine discovered they had a very real problem with the lack of tools to help them prune the trees used in agroforestry.

Mantis Model

To solve their problem Antoine developed a stunning prototype called Mantis, an autonomous clipping machine inspired by the way the praying mantis hunts with her legs. Mantis would be able to prune the trees whilst also integrating a system that would collect and grind the clipped branches down. This by-product can be converted into MDF panels or used as a raw material in the pharmaceutical industry, allowing what would normally be waste to be sold for an additional return on investment. A powerful and innovative concept.

Mantis A

With his final exam date looming Antoine needed a printer he could trust to produce his prototype, composed of over 300 parts, swiftly, accurately and reliably. After conducting research online, he opted for the Ultimaker 2 Extended. Working exclusively in Rhinoceros 5, he had to modify the size of his design many times until he’d perfected it to print at 1/20 scale. Thanks to his Ultimaker, he had the freedom and flexibility to refine his ideas again and again. The biggest part measured 27cm and the smallest an astonishingly small 1mm!

Antoine needed a printer he could trust to produce his prototype, composed of over 300 parts, swiftly, accurately and reliably
Mantis Model A
Mantis Model B
Mantis Model C

Taking around a month and a half to design, refine, print and eventually build – we think you’ll agree, the final prototype is a beautiful and original design.