The use of additive manufacturing to produce wind power generators promises to radically expand their range of application.
Omni3D, a Polish maker of 3D printers, plans on using additive manufacturing to produce portable wind turbines that are small enough to fit into a backpack or suitcase.
The company’s AirEnergy3D, which is currently still in the development phase, is expected to be capable of producing up to 300 watts of electricity per unit.
While the devices do not produce a staggering sum of energy, they remain fairly impressive as far as portable power generators go, providing more than enough electricity to operate a laptop or recharge several smart phones.
In order to build the device, consumers will simply need to procure a kit from the company containing certain components that are not printable before downloading models for each of the printable parts accompanied by detailed 3D assembly instructions.
The portable devices could dramatically expand the usage of wind power, which until now has been chiefly confined to large-scale installations feeding directly into fixed facilities or energy grids.
The compact size and portability of the AirEnergy3D means that it can be deployed in an endless range of environments, suitable for anything from backyard barbeques to long haul camping trips.
In addition to providing more convenient access to power for outdoors enthusiasts and campers, the device could also help supply remote communities in developing economies with a cheap and comparatively reliable source of electricity.
Another advantage of the device will be its open source nature, which will greatly facilitate its accessibility to consumers around the globe, provided they have access to an Internet connection and 3D printing equipment.
At present, the AirEnergy3D is confined to a working proof of concept which its developers claim is largely free of bugs.
They now hope to bring their invention to the market via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, with a tentative production date of February 2015.
In order to provide extra incentive to interested patrons, once production commences, Omni3D will send one of the devices to anyone who pledges US$499 or more.
The company will also send a fully fitted AirEnergy3D to designated villages in sub-Saharan Africa for every US$4,200 pledged in order to help address the power needs of the continent’s remote communities.