Jun 17, 2015 | By Simon

Between the recent announcement from Elon Musk that Tesla would be producing batteries designed for storing harvested energy in a home or business to advancements in solar energy harvesting technology itself, it’s become quite clear that solar energy isn’t just for the alternative energy-seekers anymore.  

Of all alternative energy sources, solar has repeatedly made sense; there are no large visual obstructions such as windmills or other power plants needed and the solar panels themselves can be installed on existing structures with little eyesore.

But for all the good that solar panels bring to large structures such as homes and businesses, what about the ability to carry around a portable version of a solar panel that can also act as a personal light?  A group of light designers from Santiago, Chile have been actively developing a solution and have recently launched their answer on Indiegogo.  

Their product, SULI, is designed to be a portable solar module that also aims to democratize access to light for everybody.   

“The light of the sun is everywhere, it belongs to all, but only a few have the means to transform it into usable energy for our daily life,” says the team on their campaign page.  

“Turn off your light for 5 seconds and imagine there are 1.5 Billion (almost 1 out of 7) people that do not have access to electricity.  All these people spend their small budget to buy candles and kerosene. Solutions that are not renewable, very toxic and dangerous, causing 1 million deaths every year by intoxication and fires.  Without light kids cannot study longer after school, entrepreneurs cannot be more productive and streets become more dangerous.”

After years of research and development exploring different solar lighting solutions, the design team realized that the best answer was to create a fully-portable solar module that is capable of being attached and fitted in different ways to change its functionality through accessories that can be created using open source 3D printing technologies.   

“We want to create a SULI community, allowing us to develop new ideas together, through a model open for everybody, where we can inspire creativity and innovation,” says the company.   

“This way, every user can be a part of our team - designing, creating, building and sharing new ways to use the SULI light.  We believe that the 3D printing world is the future.”

Among other applications, the designers see the SULI being popular amongst outdoor enthusiasts who will likely use the SULI as a platform for creating their own custom range of 3D printing accessories for various outdoor activities.  These could include everything from a custom hanging hook designed for a specific tent, a headlamp mount for cooking at night, a vest clip for fly fishing into the night, or even a custom traditional flashlight handle design.  

While the concept will certainly resonate with those who actively participate in outdoor activities, SULI is ultimately hoping that through their campaign they can help manufacture units to share with those who are less fortunate and lack adequate access to power, water and light.   

“Our main goal is to make SULI a solution that can be within everybody´s reach. Help us spread the word and reach as many people as possible,” said the company.

Among other projects, the company has been actively working with some relief organizations to supply their SULI light to schools so that kids, parents and teachers can have more hours in the day for study opportunities.  If their campaign does better than projected, they are hoping to add SULI into homes as well.

For those interested in getting started with 3D printing their own accessories for the innovative solar module while also helping support a product that aims to bring light to third-world countries, a SULI starts at just $39 over on the company’s Indiegogo page.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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