A report on Knovel proposes that solar cells could be made much more efficiently with 3D printing techniques. It seems that the cost of producing solar panels stays high as new design approaches squeeze more watts out of each square inch.
One highly efficient design involves producing a solar “cube” rather than a solar “panel”. This 3D design would obviously be even more expensive to produce – but would this be the case if it was 3D printed?
We’re suspicious of this proposal: 3D printing just takes a long time to do, particularly if the object is large (yes in this case) and requires fine detail (also yes in this case). Anything that takes a long time cannot be used to make large numbers of things – which is also true for solar cells.
3D printed solar cells? Probably not for a while.