An environmentally friendly alternative to air conditioning could be a 3D printed air cooler.

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The summer of 2023 was declared the hottest in recorded history by scientists around the world. As a result, people sought relief from the sweltering heat by staying indoors and flocking to air-conditioned areas. However, the use of AC units poses significant environmental concerns. These units consume large amounts of electricity and the refrigerants used can deplete the ozone layer, contributing to global warming.

Fortunately, a group of designers has come up with a solution using 3D printing technology. They have created a terracotta air cooler that serves as an eco-friendly alternative to conventional AC units. This project is just one example of how additive manufacturing is leading us towards a greener future.

The designers, led by the Entreautre agency and Simon Pavey, used 3D printing to create a porous terracotta container that is filled with water. The cooling effect occurs when the water in the container naturally evaporates, inspired by ancient techniques used in the Middle East. This phenomenon, known as the Water Evaporative Evaporator Effect (WEEE), creates a stream of cool air when the moist terracotta surface interacts with the airflow.

In modernizing this concept, the designers aimed to increase the wet wall surface in contact with ventilated air. They utilized ceramic 3D printing to test complex volumes and differential growth. This approach draws inspiration from biomimicry and explores how a line folds on itself to increase surface area.

The air cooler was printed using a custom 3D printer designed by Dutch artist Olivier Van Herpt. This printer functions similarly to a classic FDM printer for plastic, with terracotta being extruded as a thin filament layer by layer. The process shows similarities with concrete 3D printing and the innovative process used by archiREEF to create terracotta tiles.

To optimize the design, Simon Pavy used Grasshopper software to create parametric pieces that cannot be made with traditional CAD programs. This helped in determining the various parameters, such as lining thickness, porosity, structure resistance, water volume, and surface exchange between ceramic airflow and water.

Although the terracotta air cooler is still undergoing testing for performance, durability, and efficiency, it highlights the potential of 3D printing technology in creating environmentally conscious solutions. This project demonstrates how innovative technologies can combine with traditional practices to address sustainability challenges.

To learn more about Simon Pavey’s environmentally friendly air cooler, visit his website. What are your thoughts on this alternative to conventional air conditioning? Share your opinions in the comments below or on our social media pages. Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly newsletter to stay updated on the latest 3D printing news. You can also find our videos on our YouTube channel.

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