Hi my cheeky Chinas - I am very happy to say that after five years of trying, I’ve finally managed to produce a very strong, full scale outdoor construction panel made from our 100%: non-toxic, plant-based, recyclable, biodegradable biocomposites. Thanks to allthe supporters of our crowdfunding campaign I was able to put together “The Green manufacture System (a large format 3-D printer) and test various different methods for extruding the biomaterials that we have developed with our sponsors, UPM and Pond.
A big thanks to every one who supported. We are not there yet but this is a big step in getting to the goal of producing an industrial 3D printer as what we have here is just pushing the limit of the cheapest components possibel to prove the concept with scale prototype structures. Although we raised £10,000 of the £26,000 that was required for an industrial manufacturing platform, we are making progress and a huge deal more economically than anyone else I know of in this large format printing sphere, I mean hundres of thousands of pounds more cheaply.
We have pushed desktop 3-D printing technology to its limits in order to afford a print bed and gantry platform that was large enough for us to be able to print outdoor construction panels and other outdoor furnishings (Worm Farms, Compost Bins, Bio-bogs, Hydro Farms et cetera). I have been working with a team of Chinese engineers which has been very challenging because of the distance and language but thanks to modern technology it’s now possible. They have been supporting the process throughout with firmware tinkers and many many technical problems engendered because of the components we could afford.
Our original efforts to print with the filament extruders that came with the motion control platform (xyz gantry). This meant that we had to turn our biomaterial pellets into filament, a process that was expensive as the machinery cost about £4000 and was prone to error both in the consistency of the diameter of the filament that was extruded and in its strength as it would often snap mid-print and it would snap the other side of the filament sensor so the print carried on as If nothing had happened printing into thin air. This meant referring the filament and editing the code of the file to get to restart the print where it cut off. The first panel I printed with this process took 100 hours to print and that doesn’t include the many failures before then no the breaks in the filament while spooling meaning I had to restart the spooling process.
Because of the sheer agony of this approach involved not only broken filament but repeatedly blocked extruders that needed stripping down and cleaning each time who is nozzle diameters were limited to a maximum of 1 mm. All in all I could never encourage anyone to use filament extruders, the material is 9 x more expensive in filament form also! I have reached out to Joseph Prusa’s filament making company to start a line of filament from our bio-composite pellets but have not had time to man that station. If anyone would like to take up the opportunity please be in touch.
I chose to abandon filament extruders entirely and with the support of family was able to purchase a new pellet extruder that is a working prototype. It took about six weeks to arrive and came without any calibration instructions. Calibration then took about three weeks through repeated failures: clogs from underheating, blocks from overheating or heating failures of the motherboard because we were pushing the entire system way higher than it was ever been designed to take. One of the most difficult aspects of calibration was creating a build volume with the right conditions.
I am only able to fit this 3D printer inside of a marquee (a very cheap and golfed tent) that I have built in my garden because it doesn’t fit anywhere else within the house and I couldn’t afford a workshop area outside of
the property as well as this property which I am renting for the project. We are in an incredibly exposed area and repeated 100 mile an hour plus storms mean that not only is printing difficult but there is a very real danger that the entire structure and all of its contents will be ripped from the ground and strewn across the south coast. The many sleepless nights literally tying the structure to the ground, or retying a side panel when it was blown off or re-organising everything I could to baffle the wind infant of the structure, meant that the print volume would have temperatures that were all over the place and blockages were again a frequent occurrence except with this pellet extruder, stripping down and cleaning the extruder was a much more painful task and because of the cheap components, each time I did strip it down and re-build it, the tiny bolt holes would have their holes threads stripped bare and soon the extruder was anything but securely fastened to the gantry. I had to re-engineer the whole thing quite a lot. There were also a lot of very basic firmware errors that wasted days of work.
Since the last storm has died down there’s been a window in which to continue prototyping and I believe I have developed a calibration that allows for relatively slow but consistent 3-D print. I have one panel that is complete and is incredibly strong. I have another panel printing at the moment We know from our previous weathering test these prints will only get stronger in the elements when exposed to rain and sunshine they actually perform better and better mechanically over time.
It’s taking about 24 hours per panel at the moment but that’s better than nothing. Furthermore if one were to try and produce the curved geometry of these panels (which in their entirety will make up an egg shaped structure), through any other means of production, one will be looking at a manufacture price at least nine times more expensive (at a minimum).
Furthermore once calibrated the machine can be set aside doing its business with only occasional inspections to ensure that no blocks have occurred and enough materials are available. This means my attention can be focused on developing business plans and designs for green camps and our programs while they pop out day after day. It’s a good idea in theory but in practice is it really feasible. I question this seriously and suggest next steps further on in this update.
Regarding developing business plans for Green Camps on the sites where people have come forwards: I have been severely limited in my ability to develop contracts with the sites that have come forward. The Harry Potter wanna-be that normal work with to produce contracts seems to be too at the moment and I have spent all of the £10,000 that I raised with the crowdfunding campaign. I seem to be at an all-time tough spot with regards to financing, limiting meals to two / day which my liver will be very happy about. I don’t feel it is fair that I must furnish these sites with very detailed business plans without a basic planning agreement and exclusivity for the site because nothing is stopping these same business plans being used to raise money for people to start their own similar businesses in competition with us instead of with us. Indeed in some instances I don’t feel it would be wise to put much work in without very clear non circumvention agreements in place for all parties.
When becoming qualified to host Gaia Education’s Eco Village Design Curriculum, I learned that of all the intentional communities around the world, the main failing point is the governance / social issue and that it was most important to have the basic organisational and decision making structures agreed in the beginning because that was the main cause of problems. A basic agency agreement with introducers and tenancy agreement with land-owners is all we need for now but I can’t even come up with that. My intuition says there is still a missing piece of the puzzle and I am planning a sailing trip to Guernsey to explore setting up a trust to manage a staked mirror node on the Hasgraph to create some reasons for all kinds of magicians to come and cast spells in these needed directions.
The main consideration I have to resolve For myself as I progress with planning is how feasible this manufacturing approach really is for setting up camps or a Maker-Space at all of the beautiful sites around the world where people have come forth wanting Green Camps. It has been such a painful task to get this far to just produce one panel over the last five months and five years before that. Is it really a realistic expectation for others who may be under even more pressure than I? My mental health is also at an all-time low working on my own in a very isolated property I do not wish this upon anyone. However if this does keep working and it can be sped up (as per the below suggestions) then I think we are onto something.
The printer is outside printing a second panel at the time of recording this. The lights are flickering as the 25 amps at 240 volts sucks up all that power to keep the mattress size print bed hot (don’t worry we have just completed a custom power fed built onto the mains power line - hey maybe that was the cause of the lightening strike that kit the lines just outside my house - the engineers have been working on it for days). Anyway… If I can produce one panel every 24 hours I would have one egg shaped structure in about two months time providing I am printing every hour of every single day. I should also remember that the panels get about 8x bigger at the bottom so this would be more like 3 months. This is entirely infeasible as a manufacturing pipeline for a business as our business model is printing out beautiful camps and renting them out as accommodation and eco-program spaces.
My crowdfunding campaign set out a budget for a much larger industrial 3-D printer that was able to mount a much larger extruder (which I have brought already) that could print a few kilograms each hour such that we could produce a panel of a much larger size in only a couple of hours and then print rows of these panels so we could have many panels completed each day and produce a structure within a day or two. I was unable to raise the funds required for that so I have gone for whatever I am able to access with regards to the Chinese motion control platform and Prototype extruders from around the world. I will continue to prototype on this platform to prove the concept but unless I am able to raise the funds to create an industrial version of this essentially domestic manufacture solution I do not feel it is responsible to continue planning camps around such a slow and temperamental manufacturing platform.
I’m happy to say that I have a meeting this week with one of the groups interested in setting up a Green Camp with us on their property who is potentially interested in investing in setting up a industrial version of this manufacturing platform for manufacturing the Greencamp system and its modular life support subassemblies. It’s a question of necessity that I partner with some organisation with the much larger capacity larger than my individual capacity as I am pushing myself father then I think is healthy or sustainable for me much longer. I am committed to producing a prototype structure using the present system that I have developed and I will continue to monitor that printing system over the coming months experimenting with a larger pellet extruder that should be 1/3 faster again.
While I’m not at the printer I will be hedging my bets by developing an online concert platform to raise funds for the United Nations Decade on Restoration ecosystem restoration partners: The UN Online Restoration Festival is a concept I’ve developed with The GreenPop Foundation Tree-E-O Misha Teasdale, my friend in South Africa who is the inspiration behind the incredible Reforest Fest, and my friends Robin and co. who are producers of Glastonbury festival here in the UK. Robin has created a new online concert platform, Lost Horizon Live to adapt to covid restrictions on coming together.
I am presently working on first stage for concerts to be held upon that will be ready in time for the launch of The Decade on Ecosystem Restoration on June 5th. It’s an online computer game like environment where you can watch some of the worlds best loved artists on the stage, streaming live or recorded, or watch talks on the talks stage, live or recorded and make new friends with the other characters running around the audience talking over VOIP or typing to eachother - and in the process, raise funds for and learn about the ecosystem restoration projects in Southern Africa and around the world. This project has attracted the attention of some of the industries most powerful producers and we are working on demos for them with a system that has, I feel, great potential for defence as it involves ecosystem simulation. This is where the Hedera Hashgraph comes in and a sail down to Guernsey to work some magic.
Imagine being on a UFO flying high above a forest that needs to be restored this is the location of our party of the world stages where you can watch amazing bands listen to amazing talks and watch films about the ecosystems below that we are dancing and celebrating to raise the funds to restore. We feel that these online stages are places where we can visualise and gather the energy that we need to manifest things that need to happen in real life. The first stages will be simple and fun places to see great artists meet interesting people and support the most important solutions about our time. This will be developed on the sensor platform but I am concurrently pushing as hard as I can to get something developed using unreel and bringing together ecosystem simulation technologies from guys are Google brain former directors of fortnight amazing engineers building procedural earths the header a harsh graph and United Nations environmental regeneration project data. . This not only provides the missing piece of the puzzle for me providing a solution for green camps that is so elegant and so powerful fair secure and transparent but it also provides a really robust from framework for my work lobbying government on a ministerial facing conference on fee and dividend carbon tax systems. Such an architecture would allow for large corporate's to buy carbon offsets and advertise their products as green rightfully so. This is a model that can be recreated as involuntary carbon tax. This is a no brainer system that needs to be developed anyway and they literally cannot see any groups in the UK working on this seriously. Please get in touch or let me know if you know of any really are that are but have anything accessible other than the completely invisible corporations that the government has during their carbon tax with nothing to show for it no public plans that we can organise our lives around.
I am forced now to focus only on those opportunities that can help sharing the Financial responsibility for developing the green manufacture system further into its industrial potential otherwise I can't push this method much further myself. I welcome any and all opportunities for partnership.
I hope to take a sail down to Guernsey with a crew to develop the creation of the community land trust to serve as the legal vehicle for this transparent bank/account system/vehicle for dealing with green campus’ assets and sharing those amongst those who contribute to green campus. Get in touch if you would like to come with us on this voyage. There are other temporary structures we can use but these additive manufacturing approaches really are incredibly democratic, ecological, economical and flexible so I want to try and reach my original target I feel we all deserve this tech at a fair price even if it is hard to put together.
Lastly we will be having a party to celebrate the printing of this first by a composite panel after so many years and also celebrating that we all allowed to come back together again on the 19th of June theme is space Cowboys and urban Indians. We will be having a vegan barbecue some great DJs and some shuffle and line dancing lessons. For tickets email email Charle@create.green
Hope to see you all at this real party stage or in the hyper-dimensional one x
The Green Campus Journal chronicles the latest journal entries from all green team members. Look out for the monthly Green News Show for an in-depth update about what's been going on!