3D printing has been agreed upon by many to be an effective way for people in developing countries and areas to produce their own goods and start businesses. However, many of these areas have limited access to electricity, which means that creativity must be employed in order to run 3D printers. One thing that many of these areas have plenty of access to is sunlight, so solar-powered 3D printers are an easy solution.
At the end of May, students and faculty from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) traveled to Cali, Columbia to deliver and show residents how to use a solar-powered 3D printer they had developed. Throughout the spring semester, the RIT team worked with partners from the Universidad Autónoma de Occidente (UAO) to develop the 3D printer as part of a Multidisciplinary Senior Design course. Six electrical, mechanical and industrial engineering students created a 3D printer power system that can switch power sources easily.
The team collaborated remotely with UAO students who were developing ways to use recycled plastic bottles as reinforcement for 3D printer filament.
“The goal is to implement this printing system in Colombia because their electricity isn’t that reliable and because 3D printers need a constant flow of electricity to function,” said Josh Cohen, an RIT student who worked on the project. “Having those backup power sources like the solar panels or the battery or also being able to plug into the grid are all things that will keep this printer up and running in the community.”
The project is a first step in an agreement reached by RIT and UAO last fall. The agreement is meant to develop student and faculty project and research exchanges centered on international product design theory and commercialization for developing economies. It was spearheaded by Associate Professor Marcos Esterman and former student Alvaro Rojas Arciniegas, who is now a faculty member at UAO. Esterman is hoping to expand the project into a series of programs that will help graduate and undergraduate students from both schools gain design and development experience while making a social impact.
“The more experiences that we can create for our students, the more realistic those experiences are, the better prepared they’re going to be to make an impact after graduation,” said Esterman. “Whether that impact is doing their own venture or working for a Fortune 500 company, the skills are very much transferrable and portable. We need to make, for this program in particular, entrepreneurship in a global environment real to our students and the sooner we can make that real, the better.”
The organizers of the solar 3D printer project also hope to help residents of a Cali neighborhood at high risk of attracting young people to gang activities to develop marketable skills in advanced manufacturing.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Source/Images: RIT]
You May Also Like
New Research Summary of 3D Printing Materials and Methods for Batteries and Supercapacitors
Because the technology can achieve complex shapes and structures and multifunctional material systems, a trio of researchers in Ireland – Umair Gulzar, Colm Glynn, and Colm O’Dwyer – were interested...
Hybrid 3D Printing: Comparing High-Frequency Filters with Conventional Methods
In the recently published ‘High-Frequency Filters Manufactured Using Hybrid 3D Printing Method,’ authors Ubaldo Robles, Edgar Bustamante, Prya Darshni, and Raymond C. Rumpf outline the development of two varying devices....
Generative Design, Digital Twin, WAAM 3D Printing Used to Optimize Industrial Robot Arm
3D printing specialist MX3D has been working on a metal AM technology to create large items, such as bicycles and bridges, using robots. Now, the Dutch startup has partnered up...
Korea: 3D Printing Complex Transparent Displays
In the recently published ‘High-Resolution 3D Printing of Freeform, Transparent Displays in Ambient Air,’ researchers from Korea are studying complex geometries in the form of optoelectronic architectures. If you are...
View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.