Advantages and disadvantages of “printing”
your own vases.your own vases.
With the explosion of 3-D printing technology in the last 10 years, one begins to ask how this technology can benefit the floral industry. At what point do flower shops start printing their own vases in house?
With many reliable 3-D printers down to $300 and free vase print files (known as STL files) readily available online, anyone these days can set up a vase “factory” right in his or her own store. Why import from overseas or stock a hundred cases of glass when you can just print vases overnight?
At QuickFlora, we have been experimenting with 3-D printing many types of vases for more than a year now to see how practical and durable this new technology really is. Would they be waterproof? Would they look good? How much does it cost to print a vase?
We hope that what we have learned will help you decide if this technology is right for you
in the future.
• Customization Capability If you are tech savvy, you can imprint names and logos on almost any vase, and not only that, vase material (filament) comes in more than 1,000 colors right now. There are tons of vase files available online for download, both free and paid, that can allow you to print anything you may want or need.
• Durable and Lightweight One of the major benefits, apart from customization, is that you won’t have to worry about heavy boxes of vases or breakable glass and ceramic.
• Eco-friendly Material Environmental impact is on everyone’s minds these days, and every industry has been taking steps to lower its impact. You can now buy 3-D printing filaments made from recycled materials as well as wood and bamboo. You can also buy biodegradable filament made with polylactic acid (PLA), which is a cornstarch based polymer, although it is more sensitive to water.
• On Demand No need to inventory huge quantities of containers anymore; just print up to 100 at a time, as you need them, a few days in advance. Best of all, let your printer run at night when you go home, and come in to find your finished vases for you in the morning waiting.
• Slow 3-D printers are very slow; sometimes it takes five to seven hours to print one vase. If you like watching grass grow, you get the idea.
• Expensive The time and materials costs to print one vase will always be higher than current containers, but 3-D excels at printing customized containers on demand.
• Limited Finishes While there more than 1,000 colors of vase material, you may not find the one you want. In some cases, you can print the “skin” of a vase and wrap it around an inexpensive container that can hold water.
• Need to Have Proper Equipment In addition to a 3-D printer, you need to have a good computer (preferably a workstation) if you plan to make your own vase designs. Of course, you can hire someone to do this work for you or buy 3-D vases online.