To combat the rising heat of summer–and escalating power bills–I decided to splurge on a new fan for my desk area this past weekend. Although it had been on my mind to buy one, I was thrilled to happen upon a sturdy, vintage fan sitting ignored in a corner at a busy antique store–a real throwback to the days when items like that were meant to last more than one season.
Quite pleased with my three-dollar, albeit dusty, purchase, as I walked back to my car, I saw a little girl giggling and pointing at me as she held hands with her parents. They were all smiling at my ‘new’ fan, which had caught the substantial outdoor breeze and was proudly spinning away as I held it high, carrying it down the city sidewalk. No power needed–except for Mother Nature to send us some wind.
It’s easy to see how that ‘aha’ moment happened in the most ancient of times as nature showed us not only how to cool off, but how to harness energy in the form of the wind turbine. Many aha moments, hours–and centuries–later, we aren’t just still using the wind turbine, but companies like Ontario’s RMRD Technologies have transformed and streamlined harnessing clean energy further with the power of 3D printing, and they are sharing. A new partnership with MatterHackers has the potential to make this sharing–and production of energy–a lot easier, and even more expansive for developing countries, as well as serving other purposes.
With a long history in developing wind turbines, as well as living in and assisting in less developed Central American countries such as Nicaragua, RMRD’s founder and lead researcher Kyle Bassett has been dedicated to bringing progressive technology and alternative energy to impoverished areas living without electricity. Over the years, his turbine designs have undergone refinement as he’s put them in place and made improvements, working with the citizens of Central American villages to see what their requirements really are. Surprised to note that citizens were using the larger turbines he provided for fairly simple uses, he realized they did not require massive equipment, and began scaling down in concept. Today, the RMRD 3D printed micro turbines are compact, efficient, and meant to serve the specific needs of the Central American villages. We first saw them in February.
RMRD just recently completed a Kickstarter campaign which raised $45,575 CAD for their Rural Deployment Initiative. With the funds in hand, they were able to follow through with their commitment to trek down to Nicaragua bearing two 3D printers and an off-grid battery bank. Through their initiative, RMRD was able to gift villagers with power generated by their micro wind turbines–each one capable of producing clean 5 volt USB power for charging small electronic devices such as cell phones during low wind speeds–as well as generating power in a breeze of 2.5 m/s.
Now, furthering their partnership with Southern California’s MatterHackers is a progression of their use with the company’s MatterControl program.
“We were already using MatterControl software,” said Lucas Semple, Business Director of RMRD. “So to now have the support of MatterHackers really brings the project to life. Utilizing their newest technology, MatterControl Touch, is a perfect fit for producing turbines in the remote areas we will be visiting.”
MatterHackers, also one of the leading retailers of 3D printing equipment and filament in the US, will be providing hardware, software, support, and filament as the two companies work together in providing electricity to areas of Nicaragua with 50 micro wind turbines.
The new, smaller 3D printed turbines bear a unique design with RMRD’s ‘sail blade.’ The turbines, meant to take advantage of low wind, are portable and can be set up in mere moments. The team will be traveling with the Rural Deployment Initiative in December of this year where they will also produce a short documentary about their venture, their journeys, and ultimately how 3D printing is allowing missions like theirs to become possible–transforming other areas of the world. As they see 3D printing revolutionizing many other sectors, it’s their commitment to see the technology revolutionize energy as well.
RMRD will be featuring their 3D printed turbines for sale online, seeing them as attractive choices for those engaged in outdoor lifestyles that involve camping, hiking, and living off-grid. They also hope that the compact energy-producing machines can be used in disaster relief situations, assisting those in need just as they have in developing areas.
How do you see the combination of 3D printing and wind-turbine energy changing how we harvest the wind? Discuss in the 3D Printed Wind Turbines forum thread over at 3DPB.com.