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Solar-powered 3D printers help developing countries

Solar-powered 3D printers help developing countries

April 15, 2015

3D printersDesigns for the device are open-source, allowing others to freely use, study, copy and adjust them to suit their needs.

Materials scientist and engineer Joshua Pearce, a professor at Michigan Technological University, invented the first mobile, solar-powered 3D printer, EcoWatch reported. He claims the machine can be used to create water spouts, medical braces, or wind turbines, often for greatly reduced prices.

3D printers are being used by non-profit group Field Ready to make medical devices such as umbilical cord clamps, oxygen tank valves and prosthetic limbs. Field Ready Director Eric James said: “We can fabricate virtually anything that would be needed, as long as we have the basic power source and designs.

“The items that we can actually manufacture tend to be small but the ability to make many different things is what’s really unique about it.”

Medical applications for 3D printing are blossoming across the world. In one case, a high school in Utah used a 3D printer in July 2014 to make a concept syringe capable of mixing vaccine ingredients as they are injected into the patient, removing the need for refrigeration.

Meanwhile in Kenya at the University of Nairobi, electrical engineering student Alois Mbutura used a MakerBot 3D printer to create a gadget for administering intravenous (injected directly into the vein) needles to infants. It is estimated that 100 of the device could be produced a day by a 3D printer.

Mbutura commented: “The vein finder was actually a solution that the School of Health and School of Engineering partnered to reduce the inability of health care people to find veins in babies and also for it to be economical and suited to Kenya”.

Pearce’s lab designed an open-source 3D printable colorimeter (for testing water) which would cost only $50 (€47) to manufacture, as opposed to a similar device that would cost $2,000 (€1,888) to buy. 1.6 billion people – roughly a quarter of the world’s population – live without electricity.

Categories : Around the Industry

Tags : 3D printing Haiti Technology

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