John J. Licata, chief energy strategist at Blue Phoenix, believes 3D printing may utterly change the solar panel industry. Raw materials used to make flat solar panels include glass, polysilicon and indium. These are expensive, and they end up costing more when a significant fraction of them are lost as waste in traditional manufacturing.
The radically more efficient and precise 3D printing manufacturing method could cut production costs by as much as 50 percent. These savings can then be passed on to the consumer, making the switch from fossil fuels to solar energy more appealing than ever.Licata believes that 3D printing of PV cells can help expand its market beyond home energy, the use most popularly associated with solar. Licata explained, “it’s my view 3D printing can produce extremely thin solar cells which can be printed on untreated paper, plastic or fabric rather than expensive glass.”