Joshua Pearce, researcher and engineer along with his team at Michigan Tech have invented solar powered 3D printer, a helping apparatus for people living in areas with no electricity as well as for frequent travelers.
They published a paper called ‘Mobile Open-Source Solar-Powered 3-D Printers for Distributed Manufacturing in Off-Grid Communities‘, where they give details about two types of solar powered 3D printer setups.
The first arrangement is a quasi-portable solar printer which according to the team is suitable for a small business or in a school yard. The printer is placed on top of a wheeled cart, while four 120 Ah batteries are on the lower shelf of the cart, and two 220 W PV panels rest against it all.
This 3D printer can run for 35 hours on a single charge continuously due to the large panels and batteries.
The second setup is typically portable perfect for travelers backpack. It fits within a suitcase and features a Foldarap RepRap 3D printer, an Efika MX Smartbook notebook computer to control the printer, and five 20 W solar modules.
These 5 modules weigh just 10 pounds combined, making transportation easier. The system use four 14.8 V 6600 mAh laptop battery. Such a portable system is suitable for doctors or medical personnel traveling in foreign regions.
Moreover, such systems allow additive manufacturing to occur in remote areas of the world and reduce the impact that current supply chain networks have on the environment.
Solar cells are more efficient, promoting such technology which is expected to hit market in next 5-10 years. A decade from now, such mobile 3D printer systems may be commonly used for both military and civilian applications.