3D printers are a technology with tons of potential applications, we just have to dream them up. Polish 3D printer manufacturer Omni3D decided to dream big with its wind power project. The team hopes to create an easily portable wind turbine that can pump out up to 300 watts of energy. Not enough power to keep your home running, but more than enough to power laptops, smartphones, and other gadgets.
The project, called AirEnergy 3D (AE3D), could be discarded as another pie-in-the-sky alternative energy solution that will never come to pass. It's definitely a hard sell to developed countries who subsist on more reliable and regretfully dirtier methods of energy. But AirEnergy 3D begins to make sense when you consider far-flung regions where electricity is scarce. The project is also open source so that would-be users can tinker with designs to best suit their needs and with every $US4,175 (£2,500) pledged, a pre-printed AE3D kit will be donated to one energy-starved town in Africa. Omni3D mentions on its Kickstarter page that they have successfully developed a working prototype, but they need crowdfunding cash to make the designs scalable, easy to assemble, and easy to ship. An early bird starter kit will set you back almost $US500 (and even more to ship outside the UK). However, the team hopes to make future production models cost around $US350.
Despite its relatively cheap price, compared to other wind energy methods, seeing lots of AE3D turbines strapped to roofs or sitting on patios is an unlikely scenario, but the goal to create a 3D-printed project that has potentially more value than the sum of its parts — with that one, they might be on to something. [Kickstarter via Engadget].