3D Printing for the Algaeverse

Nick Sokol, PhD
5 min readNov 18, 2022

Algaeo runs on 3D printing!

For any hardware focused startup, manufacturing is the key and bane of the overall business process. It’s easy to design a product on paper (or CAD), but when it comes to building it and building it in quantities capable of serving one’s market a whole new realm of logistical issues arise. For one, manufacturers tend to build in bulk. Hardware developers who aim to print a one off can expect astronomical prices when approaching a designer, welder, or even a production plant capable of producing plastic, wood, or rubber/latex products. The very first design I ever tested out was a housing for a wind turbine that could operate near the surface — by harnessing turbulent winds. It cost me $86 for a 4x6 inch cylindrical housing and $65 for a spherical housing with a 5 inch diameter. To make matters worse, the spherical housing had small passageways which would utilize the venturi effect to increase the flow of air, but the manufacturing process of the company could not handle those variations in print size and the entire print arrived ruined. This slowed down development, wasted money, and ultimately led to a halt in the project as a new manufacturer was required. Enter 3D printing! 3D printing allows product designers, engineers, and architects to quickly produce their own prototypes and products! Drastically reducing all of the above ailments.

What are the advantages of 3D printing? A 3D printer is essentially a computer designed for manufacturing capabilities. Most printers can print objects as large as 6 inches, but there are some that can print up to 16 inches. A printer we recently got to mass produce caps *wink wink* allows you to print infinitely in the Z-axis using a conveyor belt. The prints simply fall off into a bucket or box when completed — increasing production speed and reducing direct engagement with product development. Another benefit is prototyping. For designs we want to test out before sending to the market, we can determine if the print would be successful before even pressing the start button by viewing it in a slicer software. This allows a designer to rapidly modify models until they are ready for print. Another advantage is materials testing. 3D printing allows users to print in a variety of plastics from polylactic acid (PLA) to Polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG), to thermoplastic…

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Nick Sokol, PhD

I write about Sustainability, ClimateTech, Entrepreneurialism, Technology, and Software Engineering.