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  1. #1

    Portable Solar Powered 3D Printers

    Michigan Tech researchers have come up with two different portable 3D Printer systems. The first system is larger and can run for up to 35 hours on a single charge because of its large batteries. The second setup is much smaller, and fits into a suitcase. This setup can easily be carried on longer expeditions, but has less battery storage. You will find more information on both 3D printer setups here: http://3dprint.com/18836/solar-3d-printers

    Below is a picture of the more portable of the two setups, featuring five 20 watt solar panels:

  2. #2
    Staff Engineer
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    Oh wow this is a bad idea... Printing out in nature with an unenclosed machine perched directly over the battery on a fiberboard table on the side of a hill with one of the least energy efficient printing methods.

    Make it a paste extrusion machine with clay, wax, or photopolymer and they get 10 times the battery life compared to using a resistance heater to melt plastic.

  3. #3
    i'm wondering what kind of situations this would be useful for?

  4. #4
    Sure you could get more print volume with an extrusion machine - but how many useful things can you think to make with soft wax vs every day plastic - which is literally in every product in Wal-mart.

    I am thinking I would just put the board on the ground and then the printer on that.

  5. #5

    Useful in disasters.

    I bet this would come in handy for disaster relief.

  6. #6
    Technologist bford903's Avatar
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    This current setup does seem a little janky.

    Expanding on Feign's idea (paste extrusion), I know a lot of companies are working on edible paste printers. Could this printer be adapted to print an edible paste for, like jeffdans says, disaster relief or maybe even areas with extreme famine?

  7. #7
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    I'm pretty sure in a disaster or famine situation, I would be perfectly comfortable just eating the emergency nutrition paste, no printer necessary.

    3D printing need not be applied to every situation everywhere. Not that it's a bad thing to try applying it to every possible situation. That's kind of how evolution works after all, everything gets tried and sometimes something ends up being a genius idea which takes off like a rocket. But at the same time, the ideas that aren't so genius don't need to get the sympathy gold star.

    Not that solar-powered 3D printing is a dead-in-the-water concept. That one guy with the sun-powered SLS printer that used the focused sunlight to melt sand into glass parts was really onto something... A shame I can't find that story again now.

  8. #8
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    I wouldn't call this a portable solar powered 3D printer. It's a 3D printer being powered by solar power. I could just as easily plug in a 65" TV to a deployable solar array. Should I call it a portable 65" TV? This isn't anything new or revolutionary, people have been doing this for a very long time now.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feign View Post
    I'm pretty sure in a disaster or famine situation, I would be perfectly comfortable just eating the emergency nutrition paste, no printer necessary.

    3D printing need not be applied to every situation everywhere. Not that it's a bad thing to try applying it to every possible situation. That's kind of how evolution works after all, everything gets tried and sometimes something ends up being a genius idea which takes off like a rocket. But at the same time, the ideas that aren't so genius don't need to get the sympathy gold star.

    Not that solar-powered 3D printing is a dead-in-the-water concept. That one guy with the sun-powered SLS printer that used the focused sunlight to melt sand into glass parts was really onto something... A shame I can't find that story again now.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptUj8JRAYu8

    it was markus kayser.
    And yep the best 3d printer potential I've seen to date.

    Using the sun to melt the material - that's proper solar power !

  10. #10
    Technologist 3dex ltd's Avatar
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    Wow that doesnt look a great set up. Surely a couple of car batteries and a 3D printer is more portable than all those solar panels.

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