The SUN. It’s powerful, and loves to spend afternoons, in the sun (HA!), creating 3D printed trinkets with it’s own energy. Of course, it didn’t know about this until Mark Fuller, aka ‘RobotGuy’, came along with a solar panel cart, a Reprap Mendel printer and a convincing argument about ‘printing in space.’ Take a look at his off-the-grid approach and how he’s constructed it on the cheap.

Printing with the Sun

The sun savvy will recall Markus Kayser’s Solar Sintering project. Similar, in that both use the sun to do their bidding, but Mr. Fuller’s build is the first FDM printer (we know of) powered by the sun.

This Reprap Mendel is Running Ramps 1.3 with SD card add-on allowing it to to print without a computer plugged in. More information about the Electronics can be found @ Printing with biodegradable PLA made from Corn using only Sun power to print.

What was the overall cost of the setup?
Solar panels – $150 (Harbor Freight 45 watt kit (on sale))
Surplus batteries – $80
Cart – $70
Reprap – $700
Total ~$1000

Side note. My solar cart can also run other electrical applications. I have direct plug ins for 3,6,9,12 volts, USB & a car outlet. Providing flexibility if power is needed in remote places.

What sort of applications do you see this being used in?
Reprap machines are being designed and improved to work almost anywhere. No matter where on earth you live or even traveling in space. If you have sunshine the machine can print. My hope is one day a person in the middle of nowhere could download a model on their smart phone and print it with solar power.

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Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.