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Printing solar panels and batteries

Posted by reece.arnott 
Printing solar panels and batteries
December 20, 2007 11:14PM
A company called NanoSolar [www.nanosolar.com] has shipped the first solar panels for $1 per watt. There technology is based on printing the solar panels. Currently the technology, whilst cheaper than normal, is also less efficient.

I'd like to see us in a couple of years using similar technology to print our own solar panels which can then be used to power a Reprap (probably via charging a battery).

Currently with solar energy you want the expensive batteries as they are better. But maybe we can cut that cost significantly by reprapping batteries as well. What would happen if we could reprap batteries and solar panels for a fraction of the current costs?

Hopefully the 'many-eyes' approach to open hardware design will mean that solar panel and battery design will quickly be optimised and made more efficient. To the point where it will be a no-brainer for a reprapper with access to the raw materials to coat his house in solar panels and be more or less self sufficient.
Re: Printing solar panels and batteries
December 21, 2007 01:14AM
... many years ago i read an arzcle about a guy, who took the electrolyte from normal batteries, wetted paper in it, dried the paper, stacked it with alternating copper- and zinc-sheets to a dry-battery and connected the right sheets ...

AFAIK two of this batteries are used in the "German Museum" in Munich to 'ping-pong' a mechanical high-voltage-toy since twenty years!

So low-current-batteries with much higher voltages as usually can easily be manufactured through stacking foils with electrolyte-paper or by fabbing laminated objects with copper- zinc- and electrolyte-pastes ...

Re: Printing solar panels and batteries
December 21, 2007 11:30AM
I wonder how hard it would be to beat NanoSolar's efficiencies of scale. They're using big printing presses to make huge sheets of this stuff.
I'm a classical guitarist, so hardly a solar or battery specialist. Still, I can imagine a more reprap way of dealing with solar energy.

Solar heat can easily be concentrated with a mirror. It can be used directly or converted to mechanical energy using a Stirling engine. Storing energy could be done by pumping water up a reservoir.
I hope this helps.

Printing batteries and artificial muscles with a home brew 3d printer:

Printing robots AUTOMATICALLY designed by computers with a stratasys:

More information and software here:

You can run the automatic design(its really more like evolution though) software on your computer as a screen saver, just like Folding at home and other distributed computing projects.

It also comes with a handy 3D print feature.

Much more on 3D printing, self-replicating robots, and other related things here:

I really hope that this doesn't get mistaken as spam, because this might have great implications for reprap.
Re: Printing solar panels and batteries
February 15, 2008 02:33AM
Hi Gene Hacker,

... i had run the golem-project nearly two years on my PC in background, but got only the common 'hoppers' and 'sliders', so it seems to be someting limited in evolutional bandwith ...

My favorite are the morphing blocks: [ccsl.mae.cornell.edu] - it's a very interesting path into the nano-world of fogglets or utility-fog ( [en.wikipedia.org] )

Another very interesting evolutionary approach are the framsticks - [www.frams.alife.pl] - here you have a much broader actuator- and type-base and you can see some very impressive beasts winking smiley


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/15/2008 02:46AM by Viktor Dirks.
Re: Printing solar panels and batteries
April 29, 2008 10:34AM
I like the nanosolar stuff but the "available wholesale to strategic partners" means we are unlikely to see the cost benefits at the retail end of the spectrum until the patent times out....

Or of course a competing similar but sufficiently dissimilar product comes along.

Until then it is likely to be priced only marginally less (if at all) than current expensive panels because there's serious money to be made.

The dealers in green technology want their (unreasonably large) share of the money that you would otherwise save.

B&Q here in england have been selling a small domestic wind turbine for 1500 ukp. Ouch. Break even = never.

I think being able to print our own though...... that would be clever and we would get the benefits.


Necessity hopefully becomes the absentee parent of successfully invented children.
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