Farmdroid robot on a field. Developed using Markforged 3D printers

FarmDroid

Founded in 2018 by the brothers Jens and Kristian Warming together with robot expert Esben Østergaard, FarmDroid brings innovation to agriculture.

The FarmDroid FD20 is a field robot that helps farmers and plant growers reduce the costs for sowing and weeding crops. The solar cell panels keep operations CO2 neutral and organic. The robot is a startling invention for agriculture; an autonomous lightweight field robot that automates sowing and weed removal on farmland. This means that the soil is grown organic, CO2-neutral and without the risk of causing structural damage from heavy equipment.

But from a production perspective, going from startup to full production mode, can be a hassle. Especially when you are manufacturing a complex solution with a limited, but growing number of units, so called 0 series production. As injection moulding is costly, creates long lead times and close to no flexibility or room for design changes, the development and ramp-up processes can be painful for a small company.

More and more companies now realize that the road to injection moulding can be helped by test prints before ordering the costly inserts. Being able to test print in a material that is close to the one used in series production means moving smoother and with more information from prototyping to production, to spare parts.

“Also, some parts in the FarmDroid have really complex shapes that are difficult to produce with other technologies, such as parts for the seeding function.”, says René Jannick Jørgensen, CEO at FarmDroid.

The solution

After evaluating several 3D printing technologies, FarmDroid opted for Markforged and their carbon fiber composite material Onyx. In a short period of time, the company has gone from one Onyx One printer, to a fleet of 16 printers, all sold and installed by PLM Group in Denmark.

With this type of capacity, FarmDroid is experiencing a lot more flexibility and accessibility. They can quickly go from 3D model to complete part.

“For us, 3D printed parts can be used for prototyping, testing tools but also production parts”, says René Jannick Jørgensen. “We have come a long way compared to just using traditional manufacturing technologies.”

FarmDroid is using their fleet of Markforged printers for various needs. Such as prototyping – the road from idea to physical prototype has never been shorter. But they can also go from prototyping to low volume production with super short lead times – from weeks, or even months, to days.

Once they have decided on a design for a specific part, they can print functional prototypes to evaluate before they order the injection moulding inserts that are used for high volume series production. The latter helps the company make sure no mistakes are being made before ordering these costly tools.

Lastly, the company also gets a much needed inhouse production capacity for end-use parts. This is much more cost effective than traditional manufacturing, especially for a scale-up solution such as the FarmDroid FD20.

FarmDroid

“We have come a long way compared to just using traditional manufacturing technologies.”

René Jannick Jørgensen