3d printing as a manufacturing method has made huge steps over the last 10 years. Refining designs and methods have resulted in repeatable and accurate production quality items. We have decided to base our product on this technology because we can quickly manufacture batches of each item and not overproduce. This intern means there’s less wasted energy, materials which could end up back in landfill.
One of the other key benefits from this process is we can control the materials used so we use biodegradable plastics across our entire range. We don’t use acrylic or plexiglass which is extremely difficult to recycle. It is a great material strong and clear, but we feel the shift to easily recyclable materials was important for us. We also source our materials and try to reduce their carbon footprint where possible.
There are some things to note about 3d printing. while the technology has improved there are still some limitations. The process can product artefacts on the surface of a print, in the form of slight bobbling in places, small gaps in tight corners and some stringing of the material as the nozzle moves. This is normal and not a flaw in the manufacture and only affects the cosmetic side of a 3d print. We try to minimise these elements through design and post-processing of a print during our QA process. However, they may occur to some degree.
We use high-quality filament to ensure colour matching in our primary colours. However, colour shades may change slightly. The wood filament can change colour greatly between rolls as it contains natural wood fibres, so while we try we can’t guarantee the wood-based items will match.
3d printing was chosen for its ability to allow rapid changes to a design which can be then moved to production again without wastage or excess stock. All our formicarium have a version number printed into them. The first digit represents a major version and all products with the same start number will be fully compatible. We don’t see us changing this number again, however you can have the confidence that if a new product is released you change to be sure of compatibility before purchase.
Hope that helps you understand why we chose 3d printing for its strengths and also highlights some of its weaknesses we try to minimise.