3D Printing Plants for a Greener City
The problem with many city rooftops is that they are grey and dull and lack any greenery. But computer scientist Yuichiro Takeuchi, of Sony Computer Science Laboratories Inc, has solved this. Takeuchi has developed a method of printing gardens that can be then placed on rooftops or in fact, anywhere.
Using a 3D printer and software designed himself, Takeuchi’s printer works by printing yarn encasements that hold plant seeds. These seeds then grow into complete plants in just a few weeks. This technology can print gardens tailored to any shape, rectangular, triangular, circular, whatever shape is desired.
The first step is to design your shape on a computer and then print it off with the 3D printer, which will print the yarn into a shape of your choosing. When the 3D printer is finished, an attachment dispenses seeds into the yarn. This tactic of 3D printing is based around the method of Hydroponics; which is where plants are grown with mineral nutrient instead of soil.
The main reason that these forms of gardens are not widely used is the high price and long hours of manual labour involved. These obstacles are stopping large scale adoption and stopping greener cities says Takeuchi.
"The printing solution takes away much of those hurdles, and also provides a high degree of flexibility (one can print out a garden that fits snugly into any designated space) which hopefully will make hydroponic gardening more attractive for citizen living in dense cities with limited space," said Takeuchi.
Currently, Takeuchi can grow small plants like watercress and herbs in roughly a month. Takeuchi wishes to be able to print yarn encasements that are large enough to grow fruit, vegetables and trees from in the future. His present 3D printer is too slow for printing on that larger scale, but Takeuchi is spending the next year improving the speed of his printer.
The benefits of more plants in urban landscapes are numerous: plants have been proven to increase office productivity, and they help to lessen a cities carbon footprint by converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. With the rise of 3D printers available for home users growing and growing, making cities greener may not be down to scientists of the future, but us.
If you're interested in 3D printing, have a look here for a list of 8 things you can print with a 3D printer.
Posted by Wayne Hogan