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Mobile Open-Source Solar-Powered 3-D Printers for Distributed Manufacturing in Off-Grid Communities

Author

Listed:
  • Debbie L. King

    (The Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States
    Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States
    Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States)

  • Adegboyega Babasola

    (The Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States
    Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States
    Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States)

  • Joseph Rozario

    (The Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States
    Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States
    Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States)

  • Joshua M. Pearce

    (The Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States
    Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States
    Department of Materials Science & Engineering, Michigan Technological University, 601 M&M Building, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931-1295, United States)

Abstract

Manufacturing in areas of the developing world that lack electricity severely restricts the technical sophistication of what is produced. More than a billion people with no access to electricity still have access to some imported higher-technologies; however, these often lack customization and often appropriateness for their community. Open source appropriate tech­nology (OSAT) can over­come this challenge, but one of the key impediments to the more rapid development and distri­bution of OSAT is the lack of means of production beyond a specific technical complexity. This study designs and demonstrates the technical viability of two open-source mobile digital manufacturing facilities powered with solar photovoltaics, and capable of printing customizable OSAT in any com­munity with access to sunlight. The first, designed for com­munity use, such as in schools or maker­spaces, is semi-mobile and capable of nearly continuous 3-D printing using RepRap technology, while also powering multiple computers. The second design, which can be completely packed into a standard suitcase, allows for specialist travel from community to community to provide the ability to custom manufacture OSAT as needed, anywhere. These designs not only bring the possibility of complex manufacturing and replacement part fabrication to isolated rural communities lacking access to the electric grid, but they also offer the opportunity to leap-frog the entire conventional manufacturing supply chain, while radically reducing both the cost and the environmental impact of products for developing communities.

Suggested Citation

  • Debbie L. King & Adegboyega Babasola & Joseph Rozario & Joshua M. Pearce, 2014. "Mobile Open-Source Solar-Powered 3-D Printers for Distributed Manufacturing in Off-Grid Communities," Challenges in Sustainability, Librello publishing house, vol. 2(1), pages 18-27.
  • Handle: RePEc:lib:000cis:v:2:y:2014:i:1:p:18-27
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    File URL: http://www.librelloph.com/challengesinsustainability/article/download/194/pdf
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    File URL: http://www.librelloph.com/challengesinsustainability/article/view/194
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Wipo, 2015. "World Intellectual Property Report 2015 - Breakthrough Innovation and Economic Growth," WIPO Economics & Statistics Series, World Intellectual Property Organization - Economics and Statistics Division, number 2015:944, December.
    2. Barry Ness & José Alberto Fernandez Monteiro, 2014. "Challenges in Sustainability: Another Brick in the Wall," Challenges in Sustainability, Librello publishing house, vol. 2(1), pages 28-29.
    3. Joshua M. Pearce, 2015. "Applications of Open Source 3-D Printing on Small Farms," Organic Farming, Librello publishing house, vol. 1(1), pages 19-35.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Appropriate Technology; Distributed Manufacturing; Open Source Hardware; Photovoltaic; Solar Energy; 3D-Printing;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • F64 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Environment
    • F68 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Policy
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity
    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics
    • Y3 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Book Reviews
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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