Solar Powered 3D Printer (with video!)

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by Cretin, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. Cretin

    Thread Starter Member

    Dec 13, 2012
    First off, I was inspired by this video

    Now I have about a year from now to put together a final project for my applied project class in electrical engineering. The above project was really inspiring to me because I am fascinated by 3D printing and its potential, and really hope that the demand and viability of solar as an energy source continues to grow.

    If I wanted to build a similar printer, but instead of sand use a material more aptly suited for 3D printing, would this be feasible? Here are the steps I have thought up so far. Excuse me if it is rudimentary and very rough, I am already in the process of doing research and learning more about the 3D printing and solar cell collection processes, but where better to ask? :)

    1: PV Cells collect energy from the sun, and stores it into a battery

    2: Through an application, I can send instructions via wi-fi to the 3D printer.

    3: The printer does its job, and prints the object accordingly.

    One major thing that I would like to include would be a status bar of some sort that would determine if the battery has enough energy to power the printer for the duration of the objects printing process, or if not, how much it would need to be charged to, or even moreso perhaps to decline a printing process if it exceeds a threshold of power required, as per the limitations of the PV cells.

    Is this project feasible? I've already been told that I will likely have major issues with power consumption and efficiency, but I would really appreciate input from the community as well!

    Thank you all in advance.
  2. wayneh


    Sep 9, 2010
    Absolutely. No new technology is required,and you could be up and running with one trip to the hardware store. Really! You need PV panel => battery => inverter => printer. All off-the-shelf.

    Now, doing it well - which usually includes minimal cost - you'll have to match up the various pieces. Working backwards, the inverter needs to be big enough to power the printer. The battery needs to be big enough to power the inverter for long enough to last through dark periods, whenever the PV panel can't keep up by itself. And the PV panel needs to be large enough to power the whole thing.

    I think the status monitoring could be your unique contribution. To provide useful information, I think you'll need to model your system well enough to know where the weak link is at any one time. The user just wants to print. If they cannot finish their print job, they want to know when they can - how many hours of sun charging. They might also want to know if they should buy a bigger battery.
    Cretin likes this.
  3. Cretin

    Thread Starter Member

    Dec 13, 2012
    Thank you for the support as always Wayneh!

    Well to make my life even more difficult, I wanted to build the printer myself :). There are a lot of tutorials on the internet on how to do just that, so I'll peek in and take a look.

    I really appreciate your advice about using solar technology where it is best suited, and realizing its limitations as well. I've been doing so much reading the past few days, but it's slowly yet surely starting to click in :).

    I'm going to work on putting together an architecture of how this system will look, and follow up in the coming weeks!

    Thanks again
  4. bill5335

    New Member

    May 25, 2013
    How much power will the printer draw during the entire printing process?
  5. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
    heated print surface = about 100 to 125 watts
    Heated extruder = 25 watts
    Each of three motors at 6 to 10 watts each. All three motors never run at the same time.
    Controller about 5 watts at 5 volts

    Any cooling fan for bridge printing
    Any lighting.