3D printing has been harnessed by the developer of automated water sensor systems to save on cost and time of the delivery of its latest product, representing good news for the Singaporean fish farming sector.

Sensocore has achieved total savings of 86% in time and 95% in cost by leveraging PolyJet technology through the Eden 260V platform to produce the Aquafarm Water Sensor System.

                                                          Creatz3D/ Sensocore Aquafarm Water Sensor System.

This system can measure water quality in real time and issue alerts when oxygen, temperature and pH levels exceed the threshold. It helps fish farmers to make better decisions around feeding of their fish stock and water management, especially important Singapore’s already high humidity rate creating plankton blooms which block out natural light and can clog fish gills. Other potential issues include dry weather and neap tides causing a lack of oxygen and the risk of oil spillages. In 2015, over 500 tonnes of fish from 77 local farms were killed, which resulted in a loss of $1m in earnings for fish farmers.

The demand for these systems is increasingly there, but the efficient production of them hasn’t been. Traditonally, a system of this kind has leaned CNC machining through injection moulding to create master moulds of working prototypes. But with tight schedules and budgetary restraints, Sensocore desired a more flexible option. It first tried to implement a consumer-grade 3D printer, but found the prints often experienced warpage and other damages during the post processing stages.

Through Creatz3D, the company was turned onto PolyJet technology and the Eden 260V machine, which was within its allocated budget and also offered water soluble supports. After four iterations, Sensocore finally found a design it was happy with and began taking orders of the water sensor system. Through feedback, it soon realised that the function button panel was prone to malfunctioning, so a sleeve protector was adopted to wrap around the system and ensure it wasn’t exposed to the water. Urethane rubber and silicon 3D printing material were selected for their rigidity, flexibility and durability, as well as their resistance to high temperatures. The 3D printed moulds were said to be a match for their injection moulded counterparts, and Sensocore had managed to achieve vast savings in cost and time, without compromising on quality.

With traditional means of manufacturing, Sensocore needed a minimum order of 4,000 units costing $80,000 for the sensor to be economically viable, but 3D printing has now enabled the company to print on demand as well as remove the need for inventory space.

“3D printing affords us better customisation than traditional CNC which are not able to produce prototypes that are detailed and flexible for prototyping,” commented Bryan Wong, Chief Technology Officer of Sensocore. “3D printing is the only way to go for us.”

Sensocore turned 16 weeks into 16 days and $80,000 of production costs into just $4,000. The resulting product performs to its remit, is watertight and durable, and can send notifications through to the owner via SMS/ email if, for example, the pond’s acidity surpasses the designated threshold.

Source:TCT Magazine