November 4, 2018 at 6:27 pm #2569Larry AtheyKeymaster
After many months of testing and building (both indoors as well as in a greenhouse setting) the following tips and tricks should be used as a guide to achieve the best results. This is being posted in the sole publicly visible forum and is a locked topic. Please use the other member-only forums for your questions and responses.
For starters, the key here is to 3D print a watertight column (which takes more time). If you want to print faster, that will require an additional post-printing step. But if you are wanting to print these and have them ready to go, you need to (1) use more printing heat, (2) use thinner printing layers (.1mm or less) and (3) slow down your printing speed.)
If you want to print at higher speeds with thicker layers, you will need to seal the outside of the tower segments when they are done printing. My own tests have shown that Plasti Dip (which is sold everywhere in the world) is a very functional spray-on rubber coating that effectively locks all of your water inside of your towers. Failing to do so will result in water wicking or weeping through the walls and will result in hard water stains or algae growing on the outside walls of the tower.
So, print more accurately to waterproof the towers or seal the outside of your towers if you want to print faster and at lower resolution, which results in more surface voids.
The 3D G-Tower is a vertical NFT system rather than a media-based tower system. No media is necessary, but you can use any type of media if you want to. Just keep in mind that your WILL run into clogs over time and cleaning the media will double your maintenance time costs. Media is not necessary in the tower, the plant roots will grab on to the 3D printing ridges and spread across the inner walls of the tower body. The whole trick with the 3D G-Tower and cap design is to spread the water down the inner walls of the tower body, your plant roots will naturally go wherever the water is. This design absolutely prevents the possibility of your towers plugging up. So, again, media is not needed and it’s also actually discouraged.
While the 3D G-Tower will actually work with commonly available netpots, those are also not needed and will actually either diminish your productivity or result in dead plants. The reason being, your water actually runs down the inner walls of the tower body. The netpot actually creates a barrier between your plant starter plug and the tower body. If you put your starter plug directly in the tower’s planter pocket, the length of the pocket guarantees that your starter plug will have contact with the water running by. If you use towers based on 3×3 segments, 1.25 inch rockwool plugs fit perfectly, if you use 3×4 or 4×4 segments, 2 inch rockwool plugs also fit perfectly. Again, the use of netpots is very strongly discouraged, the tower will hold your starter plugs more than well enough.
If you do aquaponics, solids filtration should always be your primary focus. You’re dealing with fish and one large turd can plug up one of the outlets in the tower cap immediately. There are many filtration options out there, you need to research what is best for the waste output of your fish. There is no one-size-fits-all solution that applies to everybody, you will just need to do your own research or hire help. My solution works fine for me in an 800 gallon system, but I can’t say that mine will work for anybody else. But I can say that if you don’t control your solid waste, those 1/8 inch holes in the tower cap will plug up.
While most people will want more colorful towers, just keep in mind that lighter colors allow more light transmission to the root zone of your plants. Black will stop this light transmission, but if black isn’t your thing, there are two options. (1) if your printer has dual nozzles, print the inside walls in black and your outside walls in your preferred color. Or, (2) print your towers in black and coat the outside in the Plasti Dip color of your choice. Just keep in mind that if you are growing in a greenhouse, the black color will help warm your water for free during the day. In the summer, just switch to more heat loving plants.
Last of all, keep in mind that your success or failure isn’t always dependent on your towers. There are a lot of factors that come in to play here but the best place to start is at least using the above information as your starting point.
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