Desert Flower

Smart Palm: 3D Printed Palm Trees that Collect Solar Power

Smart Palm

The municipality of Dubai plans to erect 3D printed Smart Palm trees around the city, designed to collect solar power and freak out tourists.

smart palmEver been to Dubai? It’s a massive man-made metropolis, located close to an arid desert. It’s very, very hot.

Naturally, the municipality of Dubai is continually working to make the city more attractive to residents and visitors. Hence the emerging presence of 3D printed Smart Palm trees, 20 feet tall structures that harvest the abundant solar energy.

What practical purpose do they serve? Each station is described as a “community tech hub” that allows users to recharge their phones, tablets and laptops, enjoy free wi-fi, and check local weather and news — everything you need for the beach!

Each Smart Palm runs on its own monocrystal solar panels, which provide up to 21 percent efficiency and generate enough power for daytime functionality and night-time lighting. The city plans to add them to all public beaches in Al Mamzar, Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim.

Continual Iteration of Smart Palm

A third Smart Palm was recently installed at the Dubai World Trade Centre’s (DWTC) Convention Centre for Gitex Technology Week last October. The initiative closely aligns with a UAE Cabinet decision to make 2015 the Year of Innovation, and with Dubai’s overarching ambition to become the regional leader in Smart City technologies.

In keeping with these goals, plans for the next Smart Palm will incorporate additive manufacturing. Viktor Nelepa is the founder of D Idea Media, and the company that designed and built the Smart Palm. Speaking to Khaleej Times, he said:

“The fourth unit will be another milestone as it will be a unique structure created using 3D printing technology and it will be the biggest such outdoor structure [in the UAE].”

This 3D printed version will be made of fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) instead of steel, making it lighter and more durable than earlier prototypes. It will also have added ultraviolet and humidity protection to reduce maintenance.

Nelepa says that in the first four months of operation the Smart Palms generated a total of 2.5 MW of green electricity. More than 2,100 devices were charged and – on the silly side – about 2,000 selfies were taken using cameras attached to the towers.