With the supply levels of fossil fuels reaching all-time lows and the effects of climate change running rampant, the need for change in the energy sector is clear. Creative and sustainable solutions must be put into action. And 3D printing is ready to answer that call.
Along with its versatility, 3D printing is also gaining traction for its ability to make renewable energy accessible to everyone. Cheaper production costs and better performance are headlining the benefits it offers.
Moreover, the use of 3D-printed parts for energy devices is reportedly contributing to a significant decrease in environmental damage. Seeing this technology finally overcome previous limitations has everyone on the edge of their seats. The question in people’s minds is, will renewable energy finally become the new norm?
3D printing or additive manufacturing has forever changed the way people see the world. What was once science fiction could now be a feasible answer to the global energy crisis—and it’s only getting started.
Below are some of the biggest reasons additive manufacturing could be the future of energy:
They’ve Reduced Cost Of Production
With the use of fewer machines and alternative substances, 3D printing could drastically reduce the amount of money it takes to produce renewable energy and the devices used to harness it. To give you a better idea of the associated costs of energy production, keep in mind that, at the moment, an average silicon semiconductor solar panel can cost up to USD$190 to manufacture. This includes the cost of sourcing the materials and delivering them to factories.
Communicating and organizing between departments will then be crucial, as delays can severely impact supply. The rising costs of production will push companies to embrace more cost-effective alternatives. With the help of power plant asset management software providers like 60Hertz Energy, in conjunction with additive manufacturing, the continuing advancement of 3D printing technology is seeing more and more use to address these concerns.
Developers are also focusing on the cost-effectiveness of 3D printing. What once took manufacturers a few days to create could now be reduced to a few hours of production. Moreover, 3D printers aren’t permanent fixtures at factories. This makes them easier to move around and set up.
With the current rate of progress, the use of these devices could forego the need for long-distance delivery for parts. All these things, when factored in, could lower the price of a solar panel to below half of what it was previously priced.
They’re More Environment-friendly Than Factory Production
Additive manufacturing is much more environment-friendly than traditional production methods. The combination of using recycled materials and avoiding waste makes it an excellent alternative in the search for renewable energy.
Solar panels are made of raw materials such as copper, aluminum, and silicon. All these substances are sourced from mining activities that can leave the earth damaged. Mining for silicon is especially egregious, as particles created from mining activities are known to pollute water supplies and strangle the surrounding wildlife.
On the other hand, materials used for additive manufacturing focus heavily on recycled matter. Discarded plastics and old filaments are some examples of recycled materials that are seeing use in the creation of renewable energy devices.
Furthermore, the precise nature of 3D printers adds to their practicality. Exact measurements used during printing eliminate any instances of waste being created.
They Could Cover More Ground To Use For Renewable Energy
In the future, wind energy could also spend more time under the spotlight with help from 3D printing. At the moment, while it’s an excellent source of renewable energy, it presents more problems than its solar counterpart.
If an area is found to feasibly house several wind turbines, other aspects such as construction and connection come into focus. The distance from a wind turbine to the energy distributor can be vast and difficult to traverse. This can create complications when setting up new connections or repairing broken lines. The time it takes to address these issues can mean significant delays to the distribution of power.
Constructing new wind turbines is also known to cause damage to the surroundings as well. The area is dug up to plant the turbine foundation while huge swathes of land are levelled to create roads to make accessing the area easier.
This is why attention to coastal lines has been recently drawn. Coastal areas are seen as prime spots for wind energy. They have a more consistent wind presence that could double the yield of energy harvested from the turbines. 3D printing will be utilized to overcome the limitations caused by the landscape. Offshore sites that will house coastal wind turbines can be created through 3D printed construction.
Access to these little islands can be done by boat and energy distributors are projected to set up plants near the coast. As for the future of 3D printed construction, it’s safe to assume that the only limit is your imagination.
While it will take some more time to fully set in place, you might be witnessing the advent of the renewable energy revolution. What better way to fix the problems in the energy sector than by literally creating a solution for them with 3D printing technology?
Additive manufacturing is the future of renewable energy. Not only is it cost-effective and green, but it puts the power back into your hands.
About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn.