The Risk and Downsides of 3D Printed Nests for Ants

The Risk and Downsides of 3D Printed Nests for Ants

Antkeeping is a fascinating hobby that allows you to observe and learn about the behaviors and social structures of these complex insects. One important aspect of antkeeping is choosing the right type of enclosure for your ants. While 3D printed nests may seem like a convenient and innovative option, there are several important considerations that make them less suitable for antkeeping, compared to other options such as acrylic nests, tubs and test tubes, wooden nests, carved Ytong nests, or natural dirt setups.

One major concern with 3D printed nests is the risk of microplastics to the health of the ants. Microplastics are small plastic particles that can be released into the environment through the breakdown of plastic products. These particles can be harmful to a variety of organisms, including ants, as they can be ingested and accumulate in the body, leading to negative impacts on health. There is growing concern about the potential impacts of microplastics on wildlife, including ants, and it is important to consider this risk when choosing an enclosure for your ants.

Another important consideration is the energy consumption and waste materials associated with 3D printing. The production of 3D printed products requires a significant amount of energy, and the production of plastic products in general generates a large amount of waste materials. This is in contrast to other enclosure options, such as acrylic nests or wooden nests, which can be produced with lower energy inputs and generate less waste. In addition, the end-of-life disposal of 3D printed products can also generate waste, as these products may not be easily recyclable.

In contrast to 3D printed nests, there are several other options that can provide a suitable and safe enclosure for your ants. Acrylic nests, tubs and test tubes, and wooden nests are all widely used by antkeepers and provide a safe and durable enclosure for your ants. These options can be easily cleaned and maintained, and can provide a suitable home for your ants for years to come.

Carved Ytong nests and natural dirt setups are also popular options that can provide a more natural environment for your ants to live in. Ytong is a porous concrete material that can be easily carved and shaped to create tunnels and chambers for your ants to live in. These nests can provide a suitable and durable home for your ants, and can be a rewarding project for more experienced antkeepers. Natural dirt setups, on the other hand, can provide a more authentic and natural environment for your ants to live in. These setups can be created using a variety of materials, such as sand, soil, or clay, and can provide a suitable home for your ants as long as they are properly maintained.

Overall, while 3D printed nests may seem like a convenient and innovative option for antkeeping, there are several important considerations that make them less suitable compared to other options. The risk of microplastics, the energy consumption and waste materials associated with 3D printing, and the end-of-life disposal of these products are all important factors to consider. By choosing a safer and more sustainable enclosure option, such as acrylic nests, tubs and test tubes, wooden nests, carved Ytong nests, or natural dirt setups, you can help ensure the health and well-being of your ants.


3 thoughts on “The Risk and Downsides of 3D Printed Nests for Ants

  1. someone with a 3d printer says:

    clearly you know nothing of 3d printing. in fact you know so infuriatingly little about it, it made me comment (which i rarely do). Do you know what PLA is? i’m gonna go ahead and assume a no. it stands for poly lactic acid. It is the most commonly used plastic for 3d printing, and the material of choice for many people who 3d print ant nests. might i add it is biodegradable? so your claims of plastic waste and what not are complete nonesense as it will just vanish after a few months if left to the elements unattended. no significant “end-of-life” impact on the environment. also, what waste material are you referring to? could you possibly be referring to the support structures made by 3d printing? because most ant nests can be printed without support, and if you do need support to print it, you need to redesign your ant nests STL files. also, the support structures are printed in the same biodegradable PLA plastic. micro plastics are a problem, yes. but PLA micro plastics are not. in fact PLA is so safe that it is used by surgeons to make implants that are supposed to dissolve and be absorbed by the body. so about that power usage, a creality ender 3 (one of the most common 3d printers) sits around 125watt. the computer i am using to write this comment takes around 4-6 times that amount. if you wanted to print for a full 24 hour day (i think i could print one in less) it would still be about 3kwh, which is still less than 2 euro’s (2 euros is about 1.80 in pounds since i am seriously doubting your intellect). besides, the factories that make regular non 3d printed ant nests, do they run on happy thoughts? or do they require some form of energy to opperate aswell? i think running a factory takes more power per produced ant nest than a 3d printer. if you really want to make an impact on the environment, stop writing bollucks, just run off your pc and leave it like that, the internet is not for you. oh and before you start about my english, it’s not my native language, please respond in dutch and if your dutch is better than my english i will submit. also i know nothing about ant keeping, but since you know nothing about 3d printing we can call that even.

    • luke says:

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment on the article. We appreciate your feedback and your interest in the topic.

      Regarding the use of PLA in 3D printing, it’s true that PLA is a biodegradable plastic made from corn starch or sugarcane. However, it does not decompose easily and quickly, as you stated. It requires specific conditions, such as high temperature, humidity, and the presence of microbes, to break down. In most environments, including landfills, it will persist for years or even decades.

      In terms of energy consumption, we acknowledge that desktop 3D printers consume less power than many other electronic devices. However, it’s also important to consider the energy used in the production of 3D printing materials, such as the electricity used to make and transport the plastic pellets, as well as the energy required to recycle or dispose of the used filaments. In comparison, subtractive manufacturing, such as CNC machining, typically consumes less energy because it starts with a larger block of material and removes only the excess to create the final product.

      Regarding the ant nests, at AntKit we prioritize sustainable and environmentally friendly practices in all aspects of our business, including our manufacturing processes. Most of our products are made by hand, and we use industrial 3D printing and desktop FDM only where it is 100% necessary. We strive to minimize waste and energy consumption in all of our operations.

      We appreciate your opinions and encourage you to continue the conversation on this important topic. Thank you again for taking the time to leave a comment.

    • luke says:


      Dank u voor uw commentaar op het artikel. Het lijkt erop dat er enige verwarring is over de informatie in het artikel. Ik wil graag de feiten rechtzetten.

      Allereerst, hoewel PLA wordt beschouwd als biologisch afbreekbaar, betekent dit niet dat het snel zal verdwijnen in de natuur. In feite is het nodig om specifieke omgevingsomstandigheden te creëren, zoals hoge temperaturen en aanwezigheid van bepaalde bacteriën, om PLA volledig te laten afbreken. Bovendien kunnen kleine deeltjes PLA, zoals microplastics, de omgeving verontreinigen en schade toebrengen aan de natuur en dieren.

      In het artikel wordt ook aangehaald dat producten die door subtractieve productietechnieken worden gemaakt, in het algemeen minder energie verbruiken. Dit geldt zeker voor antkits, waar de meeste producten met de hand worden gemaakt en industriële 3D-printing en desktop FDM alleen worden gebruikt waar dit 100% noodzakelijk is.

      In verband met de energieconsumptie, is het belangrijk te realiseren dat elke vorm van productie energie nodig heeft, of het nu gaat om een fabriek of een 3D-printer. Het is echter waar dat sommige productieprocessen meer energie verbruiken dan andere.

      Ik hoop dat dit verduidelijkt waarom sommige van de beweringen in uw commentaar onjuist zijn en waarom het artikel de juiste informatie bevat. Bedankt voor uw begrip.

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