This week in the workshop we have begun designing and building our first solar-powered water purifiers. We are starting small with some A5 size hand held prototypes to figure out some workflow and to show collaborators our concepts. This initial build isn’t
a functioning water purifier, rather it’s about having something physical we can show to people who are interested,
Our first design takes the shape of a water droplet (what else?) and uses a serpentine flow channel to house our photoactive materials with a transparent front to allow light transmission. At this stage, the piece is entirely laser cut and screwed together, but we’ll be exploring vacuum forming methods going forward.
We started off with some 3D CAD designs, working through a few iterations to get a design that we liked.
We then exported some 2D DXF images of 3 layers (top transparent, plate, flow channel and back panel) from our 3D component for import into the laser cutter. Some issues with DXF compatibility with our laser cutter caused a bit of delay, we ended up using a second software to export an older DXF format making the designs compatible with the laser cutter and not requiring any messy resizing of every part before cutting.
For materials, we are initially using 3mm acrylic. The first cuts (on white acrylic stock lying around) wouldn’t go completely through at low speed – possibly due to some laser focusing issues. We brought the cutting speed right down and cut out our three layers in clear, yellow and blue.
The final piece came out looking decent.
We made some final touches – tapping the holes to be screwed together and added an inlet and outlet on the front transparent plate!
Our first build finished just in time for a business pitch this week!