3D Printing in Agriculture
3D printing, or Additive manufacturing, is a technology that is steadily finding applications in almost all industries across the world. And the development is not very far from obtaining a strong hold in the Agricultural sector, and in industries that are directly or indirectly linked with Agriculture.
Farms everywhere are always looking for newer technologies to increase productivity and self-sufficiency, to feed the ever-increasing population.
3d printing is assisting the farming sector by providing various agricultural prototypes, production parts etc. These tools help this sector to move ahead at a rapid place.
3D printing provides an image of reality to farming industry professionals with respect to their products which quickly evaluates different designs and at the same time imposing different modifications at a lesser price.
Here are all the ways by which the 3D printing technology can bring revolutionary benefits to farms everywhere:
3d printed hand tools
A 3d printed tri-claw fruit picker is seen here. This tool can be used to reduce labour and efforts of climbing high trees. Fruits can be plucked off from the branches that cannot be reached without the use of ladders. The tool’s components can be individually printed and then attached to a gripping stick of appropriate length.
A shovel handle easy for gripping is shown here. As seen in the picture, instead of using a single filament, two different filaments can be inserted or fed into the printer at one time. This technique can be used to improve the visuals of tools, or even represent colours of a company’s logo.
Other than creating a customised shovel handle, an entire shovel can also be 3D printed. Here, a mini shovel is shown. Components of the shovel can be printed, and then fit together. The handle can be made of the desired length, to reach whatever depth in the soil the farmers need it for. This kind of mini shovel is very useful in organic kind of farming which requires careful removal of earth before planting seeds on field.
3d printing in Animal food management
This is a 3D printable Chicken feed holder. Proper holders like these are used to feed poultry chicken to ensure that a clean environment is maintained in the animal enclosures. The food is kept separated from where the animals’ waste is generated. This in turn ensures that the spread of chicken diseases through mixing of their food and waste does not occur.
To shell out corn from the cob efficiently, Corn-shellers are 3D printed. Design of the blade set on the inside can be chosen depending upon the size and type of maize used. These shellers help in the production of feed for the chickens in a short time. Printing Feed holders and Corn shellers is cheaper than buying commercial ones. Hence, animal feeding and health is managed with low investment.
Keeping a 3D pen at hand will also be beneficial for the handlers, as they’ll be able to repair any holes in these objects, at any time.
3d printing in Irrigation Management
Different plants tend to have different water requirements; a sprinkler with more watering capacity like this one can be used for crops like paddy (rice), potato, and soybean.
Prototypes for different types of sprinklers can be designed and then tested in the gardens and fields.
Self-designed drip irrigation structures can also be printed, which can be used for Orchard crops such as grapes, banana, orange, mango, etc. and forest crops such as teakwood and bamboo.
This 3D printed structure is a garden hose splitter. It is fit on a garden hose nozzle and it splits the water stream into multiple directions. (As many directions as there are openings on the splitter, which can be set during its3D modelling). It can be made using PLA plastic.
3d printing in Hydroponics
Hydroponics, a method of growing plants without soil, uses specialised systems in which plants are suspended in water that is enriched with nutrients required for growth. In areas where the temperatures are too high or too low, soil-based farming is nearly impossible as lands are infertile. Hydroponics, in such areas, is a great way of growing food in less time.
Introducing 3D printers into the picture, these systems can be produced at low costs.
3d printed Short Auger
This 3-D printed short auger is used to pick up downed corn on the fender of a corn head. The parts were printed in two pieces so a steel shaft could be installed into the printed part, allowing testing of fit and function before tooling was ordered.
3d printed Drone
3D printed drone is designed in order to perform pest control which affects maize stalks, causing a significant amount of crops to be destroyed each year. Instead of turning to pesticides or genetically modified crops as a solution, this advanced drone is used to spray pesticide on field.
These drones can carry upto 5kg of pesticide and it can effectively spray across the field.
3d printer Cassava Grater
Another kind of 3D printed tool used in agriculture is Cassava grater. It is a kind of grating machine which has got a rotary handle along with certain set of blades with aligned gauge thickness. The blade is designed in such a manner that grating process of any raw product takes place with an ease.