When discussing potential ways to slow climate change, two of the ideas that are almost always presented are use of alternative energy sources and the preservation of trees. In the United Arab Emirates, the Dubai Municipality has come up with a way to combine the two – trees as alternative energy sources. Okay, so they’re not real trees, but the solar-powered, 3D printed palm trees provide a place for locals to rest and recharge both literally and figuratively.
The palm trees, known as Smart Palms, are being developed as “community tech hubs” by D Idea Media, a media, marketing and design company based in Dubai. The 20-foot-tall trees are made from concrete and 3D printed, fiber-reinforced plastic with added ultraviolet and humidity protection. They are equipped with mono crystal solar panels, which collect enough solar power to not only provide illumination at night, but to act as WiFi hubs and access points for users to charge their phones, laptops and tablets. Currently, the trees have the capability of charging 50 devices at a time, and project a WiFi radius of approximately 53 meters. Touch screens provide information about the surrounding area. Crucially, the trees also have cameras attached, so visitors can take the ever-important selfie while waiting for their devices to charge.
“For us, it was important to translate the important cultural identity of the date palm from being a plant that provided shelter, building materials, shade and sustenance, to our Smart Palm, designed to provide data, connectivity, energy and all in a sustainable manner,” said Viktor Nelpa, founder of D Idea Media.
So far, three of the Smart Palms have been installed around the city, at Zabeel Park, Jumeirah Beach, and the Dubai World Trade Center. A fourth will be installed later this month, at a location not yet specified. Ultimately, the city plans to add the palm trees to every beach in the communities of Al Mamzar, Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim. The trees also serve as beach information stations, with displays showing beach conditions, rules, events and public announcements.
“The fourth unit will be another milestone as it will be a unique structure created using 3D printing technology and it will be the biggest such outdoor structure,” said Nelepa.
The Smart Palms, which took ten months from conception to completion, are part of the Smart Dubai initiative, which was launched in 2014 with the goal of making Dubai the leader in smart technology within three years.
The city has already been selected to host the 2020 World Expo, which has been given the theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” and will focus on the ideas of sustainability, opportunity and mobility.
If the Smart Palms are any indication, Dubai is poised to set an example for the rest of the world in terms of how technology can be used creatively to conserve resources. And D Idea Media is far from finished with the palms; ideas for future versions include more smart and environmentally-friendly features. You can follow progress at the Smart Palm website and Facebook page.
“Subsequent Smart Palms will have ATM machines and utility bill payment services,” said Nelepa. “Our team has also started to find new ways in which the Smart Palm can support other forms of sustainable generation, specifically through air and water purification modules.”
What are your thoughts on this innovative approach to energy? Let us know in the 3D Printed Solar Palm forum thread on 3DPB.com.
You May Also Like
Meltio Engine Jumps over the Limits of Metal 3D Printing by Enabling Hybrid Fabrication
MELTIO has officially presented today the new version of the MELTIO Engine, a fabrication module which enables 3D printing of full density metal parts when integrated with CNC machines, robots,...
3D Printing for Preppers: The Virtual Foundry’s Metal 3D Printing Filament
Foreshadowing the expansion of bound metal printing by several years, Bradley Woods developed the idea of metal 3D printing filaments in 2014 when he obtained his first 3D printer kit....
Additive Manufacturing 2.0: The future of metal manufacturing starts now
It’s increasingly clear: The way we make things is changing. As more companies realize the advantages that come with additive manufacturing – like tooling-free manufacturing, ability to create highly complex...
3D Printing Financials: Revenue Up in First Nine Months of 2020 for SLM Solutions; Q3 Earnings Down
For the third quarter that ended September 30, German metal 3D printer manufacturer SLM Solutions reported revenues decreased by 13% to €14.8 million compared to last year’s €17 million. Along...
View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.