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Article

High-Efficiency Solar-Powered 3-D Printers for Sustainable Development

1
Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, USA
2
CAPES Foundation, Ministry of Education of Brazil, Brazil
3
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: David Mba
Machines 2016, 4(1), 3; https://doi.org/10.3390/machines4010003
Received: 14 December 2015 / Revised: 4 January 2016 / Accepted: 11 January 2016 / Published: 15 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers)
The release of the open source 3-D printer known as the RepRap (a self-Replicating Rapid prototyper) resulted in the potential for distributed manufacturing of products for significantly lower costs than conventional manufacturing. This development, coupled with open source-appropriate technology (OSAT), has enabled the opportunity for 3-D printers to be used for sustainable development. In this context, OSAT provides the opportunity to modify and improve the physical designs of their printers and desired digitally-shared objects. However, these 3-D printers require electricity while more than a billion people still lack electricity. To enable the utilization of RepRaps in off-grid communities, solar photovoltaic (PV)-powered mobile systems have been developed, but recent improvements in novel delta-style 3-D printer designs allows for reduced costs and improved performance. This study builds on these innovations to develop and experimentally validate a mobile solar-PV-powered delta 3-D printer system. It is designed to run the RepRap 3-D printer regardless of solar flux. The electrical system design is tested outdoors for operating conditions: (1) PV charging battery and running 3-D printer; (2) printing under low insolation; (3) battery powering the 3-D printer alone; (4) PV charging the battery only; and (5) battery fully charged with PV-powered 3-D printing. The results show the system performed as required under all conditions providing feasibility for adoption in off-grid rural communities. 3-D printers powered by affordable mobile PV solar systems have a great potential to reduce poverty through employment creation, as well as ensuring a constant supply of scarce products for isolated communities. View Full-Text
Keywords: solar energy; photovoltaic; distributed manufacturing; appropriate technology; 3-D printing; off-grid; renewable energy; sustainable development solar energy; photovoltaic; distributed manufacturing; appropriate technology; 3-D printing; off-grid; renewable energy; sustainable development
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gwamuri, J.; Franco, D.; Khan, K.Y.; Gauchia, L.; Pearce, J.M. High-Efficiency Solar-Powered 3-D Printers for Sustainable Development. Machines 2016, 4, 3. https://doi.org/10.3390/machines4010003

AMA Style

Gwamuri J, Franco D, Khan KY, Gauchia L, Pearce JM. High-Efficiency Solar-Powered 3-D Printers for Sustainable Development. Machines. 2016; 4(1):3. https://doi.org/10.3390/machines4010003

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gwamuri, Jephias, Dhiogo Franco, Khalid Y. Khan, Lucia Gauchia, and Joshua M. Pearce 2016. "High-Efficiency Solar-Powered 3-D Printers for Sustainable Development" Machines 4, no. 1: 3. https://doi.org/10.3390/machines4010003

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