Harnessing Solar Energy With 3D Printing

Harnessing Solar Energy With 3D Printing

Renewable energy sources continue to struggle with mainstream adoption. Solar energy start-up Peppermint Energy aims to change that with the development of their FORTY2 portable solar powered generator. 

Brian Gramm, one of Peppermint Energy’s founders, was researching large-scale renewable energy options, such as wind farms, when a new direction dawned on him. Rather than trying to make green energy look like typical electrical grids, why not create power right where it’s being used, and let consumers have their own miniature, portable power plants.

“There are situations where large-scale solar is right, like office buildings. But the things that most of us use daily, most often, really don’t require much power,” said Gramm.


FORTY2 3D Printed Portable Solar Generator FORTY2 3D Printed Portable Solar Generator

He co-founded Peppermint Energy, a South Dakota company that makes the FORTY2; a portable, plug-and-play solar generator. The FORTY2 draws enough power from the sun to power an array of lights, laptops — even a dorm fridge. A battery stores power for later delivery. The initial concept with The FORTY2 was simple, lead a revolution of solar power adoption. Well, not so simple, but the innovative team at Peppermint Energy looked to Kickstarter to launch their ambitious dreams.


During the development of the project, it was imperative that they used a prototyping technology that allowed for lightweight, and durable prototypes, that could serve as end-use. Enter Fused deposition Modeling 3D Printing Technology (FDM). With FDM the team was able to produce complex models for design verification as well as test the functionability with the same end-use material that The FORTY2 currently has. At three feet wide and roughly 60 pounds, the FORTY2 required a robust housing strong and large enough to hold all of its components. The first full-scale, working prototypes produced on a Fortus 3D Production System were so realistic that they enabled the Peppermint Team to identify and correct design issues, leading to a better product. As a result of using 3D printing for prototype design evaluation and validation, the company reduced time and significant savings of up to $250,000 in tooling costs compared with traditional mold-based techniques.



With their project successfully funded, the Peppermint Energy team looked at applications and opportunities in the developing world. The FORTY2 now brings reliable electricity to developing areas around the world including Haiti.

Peppermint Energy is now a thriving startup business, contributing to job growth and environmental development. We encourage you to watch the Peppermint story and share in the warm feeling that bright ideas are coming together to make the world a better place.


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