P19462: Solar Powered 3D Printer

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

The goal of this phase is to understand our project scope. We were able to reach this goal by:

Project Summary

Fusion Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D Printers require resources such as reliable power and a specialized plastic filament. In Colombia, and other developing countries, the power supply can be inconsistent, and in some areas is nonexistent, so a new solution for 3D printing is necessary. In 2017, an RIT MSD team developed a 3D printing solution that combined solar energy and battery storage to overcome an unreliable power grid system. However, the solar power unit that was designed did not function as intended.

The key goals of the project are to make improvements to the existing solar-powered 3D printer developed by RIT students in 2017. The power management system should be made robust and the printer should fail gracefully when power cuts out. It’s desired that the printer accept pellets rather than filament and include additional functionality such as milling or laser cutting to increase utility. Finally, the printer should be easy to package, assemble, disassemble and transport to Cali, Colombia. The resulting solution should ideally be sustainable with easily obtained local materials. This project hopes to encourage and nurture innovation in children in Colombia and enhance ongoing education efforts with 3D printing technology.

The latest version of our Problem Statement for this project is linked here.


Our team identified the following stakeholders:

Interviews were conducted with Dr. Esterman, Dr. Rojas, and Mr. Mercado to help us define the problem and identify the use case. These interviews became the basis of our project parameters. A copy of the notes from these interviews can be found here.

Use Cases

Our team identified a use case scenario in which this project will be used. This helped inform our requirements and set bounds on specifications.
Use Case

Use Case

The primary use case is for the education and inspiration of children in Cali, Colombia. Fundautónoma is an outreach organization that provides technology education programs to children in the community. This project is meant to enhance this programming by introducing solar, 3D printing, and other technologies.

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

The goal of this project is to make a solar powered 3D printer with an extruder that accepts plastic pellets. The printer should be able to run as a table-top device in an indoor space as well as be mobile for use outside. Some additional functionality is desired and it should be easy to transport and deploy.

The expected end result of this project is to deliver a working prototype with a user manual, tear down and set up instructions, and an in-country field test plan to our customer in Cali, Colombia.

For the completion of MSD I & II at RIT, all associated design documentation must be posted to this EDGE site, and a poster and technical paper submitted at the end of semester 2185. The team will present the project at Imagine RIT.


Customer Requirements (Needs)

Customer Requirements

Customer Requirements

The live document can be downloaded here.

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

Engineering Requirements

Engineering Requirements

House of Quality

House of Quality

House of Quality

Design Review Materials

Problem Definition Documents


Plans for next phase

Systems Design Phase Plan

Systems Design Phase Plan

The live document can be viewed here.

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