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Green Fingers

Farmbot is Humanity’s First CNC Farming Machine

Picture of Hanna Watkin
by Hanna Watkin
Jul 8, 2016

Farmbot is an open-source CNC farming machine that — while not exactly a 3D printer — is a great use of 3D printing technology.

Fancy 3D printing your garden? Yeah, that would be nice, but we’re not quite there yet. Instead, we can make do with the Farmbot, an automated seeding and watering system inspired by computer numerical control (CNC) and 3D printing technologies.

This isn’t the only green use of 3D printing technology, as we’ve seen with the Print Green printer. But FarmBot Genesis is a little different as it can grow food for you, with very little intervention needed, which sounds perfect to us.

The way it works is to plant seeds and then water them precisely, meaning you don’t ever need to pull out your gardening gloves again. The system can grow a variety of crops all in the same area all at the same time too, making for a balanced diet come harvest time.

Each plant is cared for in an automated and optimized way, and the most futuristic aspect of Farmbot is the fact that you can control and configure your garden using using either a tablet, smartphone or laptop.

Rory Aronson, designer of Farmbot, has made the CAD models and software for his invention free and accessible for everyone.

On the project’s Wevolver page he says: “We enjoy tearing apart our gadgets and gizmos to fix them, improve them, and make them different and unique. So that’s what FarmBot Genesis is all about — empowering you to truly own FarmBot technology inside and out.”

How Does Farmbot Genesis Work?

Genesis is a small scale FarmBot which has been designed to be simple, easy to manufacture and hack. As you can see in the video, it is constructed from V-Slot aluminum extrusions, aluminum plates and brackets, and 3D printable plastic components.

A Raspberry Pi 2 host computer is used to drive Genesis as well as, NEMA 17 stepper motors and an Arduino Mega with a RAMPS shield. Note also that all of this technology can also be found in a standard 3D printer!

Thanks to the hackability of the design, it’s easy to vary the size of your planting area from as little as 1 meter square to greater than 50 meter square, while accommodating a maximum plant height of about 1 meter.

Tracks are used to allow the system to have great precision, allowing FarmBot to return to the same position repeatedly while taking up less area than paths for tractor wheels.

The Gantry is the structural component that bridges the two Tracks and moves in the X-direction via an X-Direction Drive System. It can also serve as a base for mounting other tools, electronics, supplies, and/or sensors.

Aronson said: “Go ahead and make your tracks longer, design a tool that electrocutes weeds, program FarmBot to spray water at the local cats, grow mushrooms, flowers, hydroponically, or on your living room wall! We can’t wait to see what you do with FarmBot.”

If you don’t fancy building your own Farmbot, you can order yours from their website where you have 23 days left to get a 25% pre-order discount and save $1,000.



License: The text of "Farmbot is Humanity’s First CNC Farming Machine" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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