3D-printed AirEnergy3D takes open source approach to wind turbines
August 18, 2014
The AirEnergy3D is an open source, 3D-printed, portable wind turbine prototype whose creators claim will be able to generate up to 300 W of power. Designed to be easily assembled and disassembled without tools, the device is intended to be compact enough to be transported in a backpack, allowing it to be taken camping or anywhere else that there is a breeze and no access to the electricity grid.
Currently being developed by a team from 3D printing company Omni3D, the AirEnergy3D wind turbine’s eventual claimed power output of 300 W may seem a little meager, but given the compact nature of the device is quite a sizable number. If the team manages to reach this figure in the production model, it will be more than enough – spinning at full tilt – to charge a mobile phone (directly via built-in USB cord), a few LED lights, and one or two other gadgets.
But it is the open source nature and simplicity and portability of its design that is at the heart of the project. Once fully developed, the creators of AirEnergy3D promise to upload all the technical data pertaining to the design for everyone to use free of charge.
While most of the AirEnergy3D parts are designed to be printed on a standard 3D printer cheaply and easily, not all of them are. Therefore, the team will provide a basic kit of parts that are unable to be 3D printed, along with a set of downloadable 3D plan views for each of the supplied parts and assembly instructions on how to incorporate them into the device.
To improve the flexibility of positioning the unit, the creators are also developing a mounting system that will allow the AirEnergy3D wind turbine to be installed safely on various surfaces while withstanding a range of adverse weather conditions.
At the moment, the AirEnergy3D is basically a working proof of concept. Through various iterations of wing and shaft designs, the team claims to have eliminated most of the bugs and managed to generate enough electricity to prove their design. Having reached this stage, the creators want to work towards the final 300 W production unit and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help get them there.
So, all going to plan, the team is offering those who pledge £299 (US$499) or more (plus £50 (US$84) shipping if outside the UK), one of the first AE3D models that rolls off the production line, with estimated delivery time aimed at February 2015. As an added incentive, for every £2,500 (US$4200) pledged, the team will send one fully working AirEnergy3D with pre-printed propellers to targeted villages in sub-Saharan Africa where affordable, off-grid electricity is very much needed.
The short video below is the Kickstarter sales pitch and project explanation.