Renewable Energy Comes to Makers


3D printing has gone hand in hand with the renewable energy movement almost since its inception, but a German engineer is making the connection a bit more direct. He’s debuted a solution that allows you to print your own wind turbines and solar Stirling engines right at home.

Yes, makers (and those with access to outsourced 3D printing services) can now take themselves a little closer to “off grid”. What should you know?

Printing Your Own Renewable Energy Devices

The mind behind these new printable solutions belongs to Andreas Haeuser, a German aeronautical engineer. “My focus is on technical projects and producing energy is a very interesting and important topic,” the creator stated.

His designs are available for sale on his RepRap site, and he also includes a significant amount of information regarding assembly and construction, as well as videos to help ensure you’re able to get everything printed and set up.

“It’s not a toy or a demonstration model, but a real, useful wind turbine for producing energy,” he explained, regarding his printable turbine design. “It’s stormproof and robust.

I get very good feedback for this project from all over the world. People print it, build it and produce energy.”

For those concerned that they won’t be able to afford the quality materials or specialty parts required to complete the build, Haeuser says, “All my projects are designed in a way that nearly every 3Der can print and build, with no exotic or expensive components.” All of his prints use standard 3D printer filaments (generally ABS or PLA), and he conducts all of his initial design and concept work on low-end 3D printers to ensure compatibility with customers around the world.

Both his wind turbine and Stirling engine work, and work well. The wind turbine is fairly self-explanatory, and works on the same principle as all other wind turbines.

The Stirling engine needs a bit more explanation. Invented in the early 1800s by Robert Stirling, it works by heating and cooling air in a cycle, using sunlight as the heat source.

Unfortunately, while the Stirling engine design works, the amount of energy produced isn’t particularly useful, even for charging portable devices. With that being said, users can scale the design larger, printing engines that generate enough energy to warrant the print in the first place.

Haeuser hopes that time and better technology will enable the affordable creation of larger-scale engines that can be installed at homes and businesses.

For those who don’t want to wait and who want to generate a usable, appreciable amount of energy, his wind turbine kit works very well. At just $12 for the files, it’s a bargain, and can be assembled at home with just some basic tools and experience.

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