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Another Goal of 3D Printing June 30, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome.
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3D printing is all about making things rapidly for relatively cheap and is still referred to as “rapid prototyping”, which is what it is.  It’s an iterative design-manifestation procedure.  It can be more, however. Engineers at Oregon State University have discovered a way for the first time to create successful “CIGS” (copper, indium, gallium and selenium) solar devices with inkjet printing.  This turns out to be a very cheap way to get the alloys right, because you make a layer that’s two microns thick instead of fifty microns thick.  This makes it much cheaper to manufacture than methods like vacuum sputtering, and allows much more complex wiring at smaller dimensions. Researchers were able to create an ink that could print chalcopyrite (CIGS) onto substrates with this inkjet approach, resulting in a solar cell with a power conversion efficiency of about 5 percent. The OSU researchers say that with continued research they should be able to achieve an efficiency of about 12 percent, which would make a commercially viable solar cell…at a reduced cost.

The findings have been published in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, which is pretty instructive reading.

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