3D Strawberry tower

I’ve had a 3D printer for a few months now, but been too busy to really get into it. Now elections are over, I can start to get stuck in! 3D printing is pretty much where document printing was at in the mid-1980s – lots of incompatible control codes, different file formats, different consumables, different interfaces – even several different competing technologies -and not quite ready for domestic / SME use. The memory of tractor-fed multi-part continuous stationery and envelopes and RS232 vs Centronics fills me with horror!

Anyway, a fairly steep learning curve (which I’m still on) to get the best from the machine. And my limited 3D CAD design experience is 3 decades out of date (and incompatible with current programs…), so currently I’m working with other people’s projects they’ve shared, and modifying only slightly if needed.  This strawberry tower is the first serious big print I’ve done … at well over four hours for each of the five sections in a tower it’s taken a couple of days! And I’m going to need three towers – I thought I’d ordered a dozen, as 4 of each variety of strawberry, but seem to have received 6 each of 3 varieties (early / mid-season / late). So instead of one 3-module tower (discarding one plant of each variety) I’m now going for three two-module towers (ie 2x 3-slot modules, base, spacer, top for each tower).

The plants arrived today, in a package that Yodel had clearly been chucking about. The plants themselves were in pretty poor condition – very dried out – so they’ve been soaking in a big bowl of water. The tower of “early” is now planted out, and more modules are being printed.

Cost-wise, it’s going to come in at about a tenner a tower, so broadly compatible with buying ready-made ones. I’m printing in PLA (poly-lactic acid), which is a bio-polymer, biodegradable in commercial composting (and rather slowly in the environment), and pretty much safe … it’s used in medical implants and suchlike. Now I think I’m over the point in the learning curve where there’s lots of failed prints and general waste, I don’t feel that my Green credentials are unduly imperilled.

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