American company Peppermint Energy has come up with an invention that makes it possible to produce energy in a highly inexpensive way. Their portable solar arrays help people in the Third World to cheaply provide for light, cool food and medicine, and power devices. The invention is called the FORTY2 and it the company has used 3D printing techniques to create the arrays.
It is quite a strong device, as the team shows in a video it can run a refrigerator, a laptop, an LCD and an oven at the same time and 24 hours a day, whilst sitting in a desert in Africa. The company works with these arrays in developing countries in order to bring electricity to the people. With electricity they can refrigerate their medicines and food, which is a very important health improvement for certain countries in Africa. In addition, the FORTY2 has helped to bring power to the areas in Caribbean island Haiti that had to be rebuilt after the 2010 earthquake.
3D printing entered the game when the team was working on its prototypes. The technique gave the team its chance to correct design issues. The first prototype wasn’t easy to carry by hand, so the team decided to create a smaller version, whilst keeping the solar panels big enough to generate the required power. Another prototype had an unnecessary power switch on the outside of the case, which helped the team to come up with the idea for an easy to use on/off design. They needed to see the device with their own eyes to realize whether predictions had to be made or not. Thanks to 3D printing the team saved as much as 250,000 dollars on tooling costs.
Credits image/ video: Stratasys.