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Open source, solar-powered RepRap 3D printer brings 3D printing to developing .

by • January 17, 2016 • No Comments

Jan 18, 2016 | By Alec

The open source 3D printing revolution is ongoing with full power, and has may aleager created low-priced manufacturing possible in the far corners of the world. Well, not really the far corners, as actually the most modest home-created 3D printing device requires a stable power grid to work. But actually that may be changing, as a team of researchers of the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab has only that successfully tested and shared a quite informative new machine: an open source, solar-powered RepRap 3D printing device.
The Pearce Research Group at the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology center, as dedicated RepRap enthusiasts most likely understand, are focutilized on createing open and sustainable innovation solutions. Through that focus they have may aleager repeatedly run into what solar photovoltaic innovation can do, while they are in addition firm supporters of the RepRap 3D printing movement. The combination of the two was logical, and the question arose if the time and energy consuming 3D printing devices may be powered by a thing as fickle as solar power. The answer is yes, as is apparent of the study by Jephias Gwamuri, Dhiogo Franco, Khalid Khan, Lucia Gauchia and Joshua Pearce. Entitled ‘High-Efficiency Solar-Powered 3-D Printers for Sustainable Development,’ it not long ago appeared in the journal Machines.
As the researchers explain in the paper, 3D printing is yet not easy in off-grid communities – of that there are most in the createing world. Approximately a billion individuals on the planet are yet without access to electricity, yet the decreasing costs of solar photovoltaic-powered mobile processs have proven to be an informative solution. “IEA predicts that by 2030 population growth particularly in sub-Saharan Africa can surpass the pace of electricity access, outcomeing in 75% of the population of sub-Sahara Africa not having access to electricity by 2040,” they say.
More importantly, those individuals may unquestionably benefit of affordable 3D printing innovations for the createments of tools and missing components. “The declining prices of 3-D printing devices, together with parallel createment of open source-appropriate innovation (OSAT),has enabled the opportunity for 3-D printing devices to be utilized for sustainable createment in most impoverished areas of the world/ OSAT can alter in complexity of high-end medical equipment or easy agricultural tools. OSAT presents the users with the opportunity to modify and improve the physical creations of their printing devices in line with their needs outcomeing in explosive mushrooming of hardware createers,” they explain. Household items, tiny farm tools, and actually scientific or medical equipment like prosthetics may all be accomplished.


In this study, the researchers have therefore decided to merge solar photovoltaic-powered mobile processs with a delta 3D printing process to limit the energy consumption as much as possible, in part created possible by new 3D printing innovations. “Improvements in print bed surface treatment, the adoption of low temperature filament materials, such as biodegradable polylactic acid (PLA), decreased the number of stepper motors in novel 3-D printing devices creations and has enabled the elimination of the heated bed, outcomeing in a drastic reduction of printing device power consumption,” they explain. The battery they utilized was a polymer Li-ion rechargeable battery pack (14.8 V, 20 Ah), that showcases an overcharge preserveion circuit that empowers it to assist as an energy backup/reassist during low/no light conditions.
The outcome is a particularly capable 3D printing setup. This solar-PV-powered process is created to run the RepRap 3D printing device regardless of solar flux, and can be created for around $1000 (with most of the costs going towards the solar cells). Theoretically, the machine can actually be upgraded to a syringe printing device, vinyl cutter, and PCB mill via free creations. In addition to the electronic components, the RepRap itself was utilized to provide a conmodel kit that was created in OpenSCAD, a parametric open-source script-based solid modeling program. “3D printed conmodel parts are utilized to secure the panels to the printing device frame, as well as to preserve vulnerable printing device components, such as the Melzi controller board, Li-Ion battery pack and the power donate circuitry during transit,” they say. “The whole assembly easily fits into a 36 inch (91 cm) drop-bottom wheeled duffel for transport to a location of interest.”

3D printable solar panel modules.
But of course the real question is: can it consistently operate on solar power alone? As associate professor Joshua Pearce of Michigan Tech explains, the answer is yes. The electrical process has been specifically created for and tested outdoors under various operating conditions. “(1) PV charging battery and running 3-D printing device; (2) printing under low insolation; (3) battery powering the 3-D printing device alone; (4) PV charging the battery only; and (5) battery fully charged with PV-powered 3-D printing,” he says. “The outcomes show the process performed as required under all conditions providing feasibility for adoption in off-grid rural communities.” He additional introduced that these types of machines had the future to be extensively utilized in poor rural areas and actually reduce poverty through employment creation, as well as ensuring a constant donate of scarce products for isolated communities.
In short, the machine did precisely what it was supposed to do, and performed as predicted. Its implications are clear: anyone in the far corners of African communities can now set up a mini factory in their backyard, via nothing but the sun as a source. It pretty has the future to alter the quite nature of those communities. If you may like to see additional information of this solar-powered 3D printing device, check out its page on Appropedia, where you can find the full plans, electronic schematics, CAD creations, and software.

Posted in 3D Printer

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