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Harvest your own energy using 3D printed wind turbines and solar stirling engines
Posted by 3DP4E

By Simon |

Of all of the things to love about 3D printing, the ability to share complicated project builds that previously only existed as text-based instructions is definitely one of the best traits - particularly when experts from any number of career fields share projects that would otherwise take months to figure out on your own.

Andreas Haeuser, an aeronautical engineer based in Germany with over 25 years of experience, is one of these experts who has been spending many hours outside of his office designing and developing technical projects. While he previously used more traditional manufacturing fabrication processes such as CNC milling machines and lathers, he has been using 3D printers for the last five years to bring his projects to life.

Among the projects that Haeuser has been focusing on are energy-harvesting 3D printed wind turbines and 3D printed solar stirling engines, which are the result of two years of development, multiple prototypes, hundreds of test drives and numerous calculations and laboratory tests.

Haeuser offers the projects for both the wind turbine and the solar stirling engine for sale on his Reprap-Windturbine website, which include the 3D printable files and detailed construction manuals that provide information on the theoretical fundamentals as well as step by step instructions with over 100 color images that detail the construction process. Additionally, videos are available to download for further explaining the theoretical fundamentals and build process.

“My focus is on technical projects....and producing energy is a very interesting and important topic,” Haeuser told 3Ders.

“It's not a toy or a demonstration model but a real useful wind turbine for producing energy. 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 green energy with this.”

All of Haeuser’s projects are designed in a way that makes them easily reproducible on nearly any 3D printer. To exemplify this, he only uses open source and low cost kit-printers during his development process such as a Prusa I3 and a Mendelmax 1.5. As for material, he uses standard PLA or ABS. As Haesur puts it, “ All my projects are designed in a way that nearly every 3der can print and build exotic or expensive things.”

While the wind turbine offers users a way to harvest energy from the passing breeze, the solar stirling engine works by heating and cooling air in a cycle. It was originally invented in 1816 by the Scottish clergyman Robert Stirling and is the second-oldest thermal engine invention after the steam engine.

While Haeuser notes that others have attempted to build a stirling engine using a 3D printer, no one has tried to build a low-temperature stirling engine for solar use. After 8 months of development, the project has culminated in a final design that - similar to the wind turbine - features a full-featured construction manual with images, historical information and detailed step-by-step building instructions and video tutorials.

While his example model is a fully-functional stirling engine, it is too small to power in an amount that would make sense to use it. However with some simple scaling of the 3D printed parts, a user could easily create a custom size depending on the amount of energy they want to harvest. Haeuser hopes that as 3D printers become both larger and cheaper, this will be made much easier in the near future.

Be sure to check out the Reprap-Windturbine website for the full build instructions - which start at just $12USD - and start harvesting your own clean energy right in your backyard using the wonders of 3D printing to reproduce and build Haeuser’s ingenious design.


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