3DPONICS - Non-Circulating Hydroponics System

Introduction: 3DPONICS - Non-Circulating Hydroponics System

About: 3D Printing Meets Hydroponics! Open-Source Gardening | Innovation through Collaboration.

The 3Dponics Non-Circulating Hydroponics System is a 3D-printable garden that requires no pump and no electricity to run. It is easy to assemble and can be set up anywhere--indoors or outside. You can make it as big or little as you want, depending on how much you want to grow.

At the core of the hydroponics system are three 3D-printable components: the Floater, the Receiver and the Nut. When assembled, they regulate the water level, allowing water to enter when it gets too low, and preventing water from entering when the water level gets too high.

As the water in the plastic container gets used up the plants, the Floater will start to drop, opening up the hole in the Receiver, which will allow more nutrient solution to enter the container. The system is self-regulating in the way that once enough water has entered the container, the Floater will rise back up and block more water from entering. All you have to do is change the nutrient solution every few weeks. No pump and no electricity needed!


What you'll need:

  • Plastic container with lid (8.3″ x 13.5″ x 4.7″ or bigger)
  • 3D-printed Floater
  • 3D-printed Receiver & Nut
  • Small wire
  • 3D-printed Air Lock
  • Standard airline tubing
  • Three 3D-printed Planters
  • Three small plants
  • Grow medium
  • 3D-printed Bottle Stand
  • Empty plastic bottle (2 L)
  • Nutrient solution

Step 1: Download the 3Dponics Digital Files.

Download the STLs for the following parts:

  • Floater
  • Receiver
  • Nut
  • Air Lock
  • Planters (x3)
  • Bottle Stand

You can find all parts and upgrades listed on the 3Dponics Downloads Wiki.

Step 2: 3D Print the Parts.

If you’re using a MakerBot or Ultimaker, we recommend the following settings:

  • Medium quality
  • 0.2 mm
  • 10% fill
  • 2 shells

If you don't have a 3D printer, you can always order the parts from a 3D-printing service like:

Step 3: Prepare Your Plastic Container.

(a) Cut three equal holes in the lid of the plastic container. The holes should be the same size and shape as your planters. (If you’re using the round planters, you’ll need to make round holes. If you’re using the square planters, your holes will have to be square.) To make this process easier, we suggest using a hole saw set, available at most home hardware stores.

(b) Make another hole on the side of the plastic container so that the Receiver shaft can fit through.

Step 4: Put the Receiver Assembly Together.

Attach the Floater to the Receiver using a small wire bent at the sides to hold the two parts together (a paperclip will do the trick). Working from the inner side of the plastic container, slide the Receiver shaft through the side hole and secure it to the container using the Nut. The body of the Floater should be hanging near the bottom of the container.

Step 5: Connect the Tubing.

(a) Slide the Air Lock over one end of your rubber tubing. Attach the tubing to the tip of the Receiver and slide the Air Lock over the connection to seal it and prevent water and air from escaping.

(b) Connect the other end of the tubing to the bottle stand, using the Air Lock.

Step 6: Prepare the Planters.

Fit the 3 planters snugly into the 3 holes that you cut in the container lid. Fill them with your grow medium of choice. As you go, add your plants, taking care to not damage the roots.

Step 7: Fill the Container With Water.

Start adding water to the container. When the Floater rises and blocks the small hole in the Receiver, you have enough water. Cover the container with the lid and planters.

Step 8: Add the Nutrient Solution.

Fill your empty plastic bottle to the top with the nutrient solution. Screw the bottle stand to the bottle like you would a standard cap. Flip it over and place on a flat surface, making sure that it’s positioned at a slightly higher level than the plastic container.

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    4 years ago

    Where should the water level be when I fill up the container?
    Does it need to reach the bottom of the planters?