German-born Kai Parthy, the brains behind Lay Filaments, has been responsible for a number of innovations in the world of 3D printing materials.
An early pioneer of wood filament, the 3D printing expert has developed a huge range of materials for (mostly FDM) 3D printing, with products like MOLDLAY, BENDLAY, and LAYCERAMIC, all finding success on the materials market. Parthy has even made a mark on construction 3D printing, with his 3D printed steel inserts making headlines late last year.
Parthy’s latest creation, GROWLAY filament can be used for indoor farming. Layers of GROWLAY can produce organic structures like small hills and landscapes. Add some water, seeds, or spores of any kind of plant and they will grow on the filament. The key point here with GROWLAY is the micro-capillary nature of the layered thermoplastic material. Its cavities absorb and store water, and dissolved liquid nutrients or fertilizer. It is an absorptive carrier for agents, providing a stable structure for grass seeds or moss to hold on to.
Some people will want to use it to cultivate the mycelium of mushrooms, some others might want to enhance the landscape of their model with real vegetation. You can also grow precious mold cheese in the complex layers of Growlay’s organic-like micro-tunnels. Parthy has even experimented with lichen — which normally only likes to settle on scarious concrete or roof tiles.
There is plenty of room for experimentation here, but do not forget to regularly water your new ecosystem! Kai’s new invention will naturally store the precious H²O in tiny pores, and provide a safe reservoir for it, even if the water contains added nutrients or fertilizers.
With the introduction of Growlay it should be clear now that a universally applicable fertile soil with the properties of humic earth is now available as a printable filament. Its flexible matrix is always ready to be used by gardeners or researchers alike, wherever and whenever something has to be grown. Clients can grow exotic landscapes or parks with individual designs and throw seeds on it.
Kai has developed Growlay in two different versions:
Porous with open capillaries, it will be fully compostable and consist of one pure material, and will also be biodegradable.
While not compostable, it will provide more solidity. It has pores, and contains organic nutrients (particles of wood) which serve as aliment for any green plants. It has high tensile strength, and is more rigid than GROWLAY-white. It has increased temperature stability, and can be printed just as easily as Laywood.
GROWLAY can be sterilized (for food use and research) with gases or liquids (but not thermally). It can even be colored to achieve higher contrast, in order to visually separate growth and seeding-grounds.
So much to do, so little time. It is a trite phrase, but when I found myself as the only DigiTech teacher in the school, it suddenly gained a lot more meaning.
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