Distributed manufacturing with 3-D printing: a case study of recreational vehicle solar photovoltaic mounting systems
|By Michigan Tech's Open Sustainability Technology Lab.
Wanted: Students to make a distributed future with solar-powered open-source 3-D printing.
|This page is part of an international project to use RepRap 3-D printing to make OSAT for sustainable development. Learn more.
Research: Open source 3-D printing of OSAT • RecycleBot • LCA of home recycling • Green Distributed Recycling • Ethical Filament • LCA of distributed manufacturing • RepRap LCA Energy and CO2 • Solar-powered RepRaps • solar powered recyclebot • Feasibility hub • Mechanical testing • RepRap printing protocol: MOST• Lessons learned • MOST RepRap Build • MOST Prusa Build • MOST HS RepRap build • RepRap Print Server
Pearce Publications: Energy Conservation • Energy Policy • Industrial Symbiosis • Life Cycle Analysis • Materials Science • Open Source • Photovoltaic Systems • Solar Cells • Sustainable Development • Sustainability Education
- Ben Wittbrodt, John Laureto, Brennan Tymrak and Joshua M Pearce. Distributed manufacturing with 3-D printing: a case study of recreational vehicle solar photovoltaic mounting systems. Journal of Frugal Innovation 1(1), 1-7 (2015). doi:10.1186/s40669-014-0001-z open access
- Source Code (STLs and SCAD): https://www.youmagine.com/designs/rv-solar-photovoltaic-mount
For the first time, low-cost open-source 3-D printing provides the potential for distributed manufacturing at the household scale of customized, high-value, and complex products. To explore the potential of this type of ultra-distributed manufacturing, which has been shown to reduce environmental impact compared to conventional manufacturing, this paper presents a case study of a 3-D printable parametric design for recreational vehicle (RV) solar photovoltaic (PV) racking systems. The design is a four-corner mounting device with the ability to customize the tilt angle and height of the standoff. This enables performance optimization of the PV system for a given latitude, which is variable as RVs are geographically mobile. The open-source 3-D printable designs are fabricated and analyzed for print time, print electricity consumption, mechanical properties, and economic costs. The preliminary results show distributed manufacturing of the case study product results in an order of magnitude reduction in economic cost for equivalent products. In addition, these cost savings are maintained while improving the functionality of the racking system. The additional electrical output for a case study RV PV system with improved tilt angle functionality in three representative locations in the U.S. was found to be on average over 20% higher than that for conventional mass-manufactured racking systems. The preliminary results make it clear that distributed manufacturing - even at the household level - with open-source 3-D printers is technically viable and economically beneficial. Further research is needed to expand the results of this preliminary study to other types of products.
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