When observing the 3D printing innovations which have taken place in universities across the world, few educational establishments have matched the good results of Michigan Tech and their Open Sustainability Technology Lab. Using an open source delta RepRap, Michigan Tech has a few achieved awe-inspiring feats, which include the creation of a metal 3D printing device which cost under $2,000 to create. Michigan Tech has in addition innovated with an environmentally conscious mind, receiving recognition and a handa few $25,000 grant of Ford for their developments in recycled filaments. Now, the Michigan Tech team is harnessing the power of the sun to take 3D printing off of the grid, developing a solar-powered 3D printing device based off of their delta RepRap.


By embedding a solar photovoltaic-powered mobile process into the lab’s RepRap, the Open Sustainability Technology Lab created a 3D printing device which is ideal for those living without proper access to electricity, or those wishing to disconnect of the fossil fuel grid. The solar-powering component is created of a PV stand-alone power and battery charging process, with extra
3D printed parts needed to secure the solar panels. Consistently focused on keeping their 3D printing innovations open source, Michigan Tech’s new solar printing device can be created for around $1,000, a huge price cut in comparison to other mobile solar-powered 3D printing devices on the market which cost around $2,500.

Estimated cost of parts needed to create Michigan Tech's solar-powered RepRap

Estimated cost of parts needed to create Michigan Tech’s solar-powered RepRap

“The innovations presented in this project are of excellent significance in general to all 3-D printing operators who now have the choice of transporting their mobile processs wherever they desire without the limitation of grid electricity,”the Michigan Tech research team said in the conclusion of their detailed study. “This in addition has far reaching implications for the adoption of 3-D printing innovation in off-the-grid rural communities to enable distributed manufacturing.”

Take your solar-powered RepRap anywhere the sun shines!

Take the solar-powered RepRap anywhere the sun shines!

In addition to the relatively inexpensive
price for solar power, the adjusted delta RepRap can in addition be upgraded to a PCB mill, vinyl cutter, paste printing device, one of other freely on the market tool conversion creations. The entire blueprint for the solar-powered RepRap is may already on the market for free download on Appropedia. Michigan Tech’s development of an inexpensive
solar-powered 3D printing device version can potentially assist make 3D printing accessible anywhere in the world. Whether it’s a scientist who needs tools while out in the field, a farmer who needs to print a few new equipment, or a humanitarian looking to make sure supplies in off-grid communities, solar-powered 3D printing devices such as Michigan Tech’s adjusted delta RepRap can surely benefit any Maker under the sun!

Tyler Koslow

About The Author

Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based writer for 3D Printing Industry, and has in addition generated content for publications and companies such as Dell, Brooklyn Magazine, and Equity Arcade. His content is focused on a wide range of topics which include tech, gaming, and music . Tyler is in addition a habitual instrument player, a writer of fiction, and generally all around fun haver. Tyler got a Bachelor’s degree studying English-Creative Writing at the University of Central Florida in 2008.