Note: The following blog was written by Temi Odanye, Mechanical and Systems Engineer, at LettUs Grow, a startup and participant in the SOLIDWORKS Entrepreneur Program.
LettUs Grow is a startup in Bristol, UK that designs, builds and sells indoor and vertical farms. With our patented aeroponic technology, over 40 variations of salad, soft fruit and root crops can be grown close to the consumer all year round. We are working hard to develop the resources required to build a more robust food supply chain with less waste and a lower environmental impact.
Aeroponics is a farming technique that involves suspending plant roots in a dense mist solution of nutrients and water. Our bespoke aeroponic grow beds are a key component to the LettUs Grow farm, they enclose the roots and generate mist. The engineering drawings created on SOLIDWORKS allowed us to communicate the intricate, self-draining and easy-clean design of this custom-made component to external manufacturers.
LettUs Grow is a unique workplace in which engineers work closely with biologists, farmers and plant physiologists. Our success and innovation stems from an inter-disciplinary, collaborative approach. SOLIDWORKS is an integral tool for a team like ours. We benefit hugely from the 3D visual representations that facilitate internal brainstorms and technical discussions.Involving plant experts from the earliest stages of the technical design process has allowed us to thoughtfully design a farm product around the precise needs and requirements of the plants. As a result, our farms encourage fast, healthy and sustainable crop growth. Using SOLIDWORKS PCB, Electrical and Standard, we have modelled the farm in its entirety as a large, electro-mechanical assembly.
The LettUs Grow research and development facility in Bristol is home to two iterations of farm product. The nature of our engineering work presents some novel challenges as we strive to create a functional product that offers a sensitive, seamless interface between living plants and sophisticated technology. Our farm facility is used to investigate user experience and plant behaviour to drive product development. Software integration and automation allow us to closely monitor and control the conditions that the plants are exposed to. This has enabled academic research into how environmental parameters can be adapted to match a plant’s circadian rhythm with the aim of optimising farm productivity.
We are positioned within an emerging market with a pioneering technology. The ability to generate photo-realistic renders in SOLIDWORKS has helped to accelerate sales and bring this seemingly futuristic concept into reality for our early customers. Since 2017, the LettUs Grow team has raised over £1million in investment to develop our first prototype into a commercial product that is now being delivered in early sales.
It is our hope that the profitability, usability and sustainability of our farms will inspire members of the agriculture and food retail industries to diversify and explore the benefits of aeroponics. This could help to alleviate some of the pressure we are placing on our soil and atmosphere and allow us to manage our land and food production more conscientiously.
To learn more about LettUs Grow, click on the links below: