Stratasys Blog

Designing A 3D Printed Solution To Make Electricity More Accessible

Every year, the Extreme Redesign Challenge calls upon tomorrow’s engineers, artists and entrepreneurs to design a better future. It is a test to see who can come up with the most creative, mechanically sound, and realistically achievable design using 3D printing. Seven winners were selected and received scholarships for their efforts as well as features on our website and blog.

Jacob Koch Is a sophomore in mechanical engineering at Iowa State University,  and his coursework includes designing a project with a humanitarian focus that serves the betterment of lives of those living in under-developed countries.  For both his submission into the Extreme Redesign Challenge, Engineering: Post-Secondary Education category, and his University coursework assignment, he designed a modular hydroelectric generator that would provide small amounts of electricity to individuals in rural, off-grid areas. Villagers can put as many as they need on the rope to fit their energy needs. The plane in the design is held in place by a rope that goes from one side of river or stream to the other, and is tied to a tree on each side. On one side of the design there is a battery box that stores energy generated for use later in the day.

His idea for the generator stemmed from the the importance of electricity and it’s benefits in everyday life.  Jacob believes that if everyone has access to electricity that there would be a positive cascade effect in the communities that a generator like his could serve. Jacob mentioned that there are currently similar products already on the market, like smart hydroelectric, that produce electricity generators for communities on a much larger scale that what his project answers the need for.  “My project is more for a rural area, providing an easy and portable solution to electrical needs. We have tested this device, and the initial estimates are that this solution could generate about 5 watts of electricity continuously, enough to charge a battery as a power source for the community needs.” Once the design is finalized, Jacob foresees this project being best suited to a strong material like ABS, one that can withstand the outdoor elements, allowing the generator to keeps its shape even in the most strenuous of conditions.

As Jacob contemplates his future in engineering, he thinks the experiences he’s gained in design and 3D printing will be nothing but beneficial for him as he enters the workforce.  “I want to go into consumer plastics after I graduate, and those items are typically created using injected molded plastics.  3D printing is a fantastic way to prototype injection molded plastics, and so these skills will enable me to prototype consumer products in the future.”

Carrie Wyman

Carrie Wyman

Carrie is a technology and 3D printing enthusiast, with a passion for beautiful design.

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