Solar-powered 3D printer helps in Solomon Islands relief efforts | 3/6/2018 | Staff
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A team of researchers from Deakin University in Australia has used 3D printing to manufacture spare parts in extreme conditions. Armed with just a 3D printer, laptop, and plastic waste, the team successfully demonstrated how to 3D print a pipe replacement part during a cyclone in the Solomon Islands. The researchers, led by led by Dr. Mazher Mohammed, hope to introduce 3D printing technology to locals on the island for future disaster relief efforts.

The Deakin University researchers went over to the Solomon Islands in January during a particularly stormy season to test how 3D printing technology would do in rough conditions, and to see if a 3D printer would be a viable solution for residents of the island. This particular 3D printer was portable, capable of processing recycled plastic, and able to run on solar power.

Goal - Project - Print - Replacement - Part

The specific goal of the project was to 3D print a replacement part for a damaged water pipe in the town of Visale, just down the coast from the Soloman Islands’ capital city of Honiara. The pipe in question had long been damaged and was patched together at various points with materials like bike tires, bamboo, and garden hose material.

“When government or charities go and do maintenance in these remote towns, you often get out there and don’t have the specific parts you need in the right sizes,” explained Tom Rankin, the program manager of Plan International, a charity that collaborated on the 3D printing project. “And the travel to these sites, it makes it really expensive. These waterpipe parts have been prohibitively expensive in the Solomons.”


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