The Solar Pocket Factory by Shawn Frayne and Alex Hornstein, two MIT grads is a printing system that allows people to print micro solar panels in their own backyard to power devices like cell phones, garden lights or any small consumer electronic device.
Through crowd-sourced funding platform Kickstarter this team raised $77,500 to fund the machine.
After finding micro-sized solar panels that were too expensive and easy to break after a few years, the pair decided to invent their own.
"This simple question led us on a voyage of investigation and discovery through the world of small, low-cost solar; through rotting solar factories in Southern China to shivering, soaked motorcycle trips across unelectrified tropical islands in the Philippines and countless late nights working on prototypes in an industrial building in Hong Kong," they wrote this on their Kickstarter page. "And all along the way, we kept asking questions, and started to find answers."
They found that about 50% of the cost of a microsolar panel is in the assembly. Many parts are made and soldered by hand, and 15% of the panels problems caused by inaccurate soldering.
They figured that if they could automate the production and testing, they could save about 25% of the cost of a panel with less errors. By using high quality materials their solar panels will gather more light and last longer.
The result is the Solar Pocket Factory, a small automatic machine using 3D printing techniques and inexpensive PV material to produce small scale solar panels. The device resembles a desktop 3D printer and the team hopes to have a working model by April 2013. The device would then produce a solar panel every 15 seconds, that means one of these machines could solar-power 1 million devices each year.
Source: The Solar Pocket Factory
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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