3d printers

How Markforged 3D printers are being used to create greener and more sustainable air conditioning systems

Greentown Laboratories is one of the largest climate technology incubators in North America. The offices in Somerville, Massachusetts and Houston, Texas are home to start-ups that share the goal of creating more environmentally friendly and sustainable technology and launching it to the world.

To date, 450 companies have been incubated in Greentown, raising over $1 billion. Greentown supports its start-ups with Brandforged 3D printers like the mark two and X7 printers.

“Climate change is the greatest existential challenge of our time. We are learning more every day how little time we have to make big, drastic, systemic changes,” said Greg Ralich, Senior Director of Lab and Membership Resources, Greentown. “It’s a hub to make these things less difficult. The Greentown community is made up of like-minded individuals working on products and prototypes that will change the way the world feeds itself.

Using Markforged 3D printing technology, Greentown companies produce lightweight, high-strength parts reinforced with composites such as continuous carbon fiber.

One of the startups currently supported by Greentown Labs is Transaeraa swarm of MIT which develops new high-efficiency air conditioning systems for residential and industrial applications. The company is one of eight finalists in the Global cooling pricean innovation competition that features some of the world’s leading air conditioner manufacturers.

Transaera Technical Director Ross Bonner said: “Air conditioning is probably not something you think of when we talk about climate change, but it turns out that air conditioning is probably the number one consumer of energy in your home. 4% of global carbon emissions come from air conditioning. That’s twice the size of the aviation industry.

Bonner added, “Even a moderate improvement in air conditioning efficiency can save a lot of carbon and make a big difference to climate change.”

Work at Transaera aims to increase efficiency and reduce waste from air conditioning units. The company shares resources for 3D printing with other Greentown start-ups and has found it helpful.

The speed of 3D printing has been of great benefit to Transaera, with the company’s team able to conceptualize a part, design it in CAD, and hold it in their hands at the end of the day. The company uses technology to test, learn, prototype and improve new parts.

“If there’s a moment when a bracket, bracket, or fixture is out eight weeks, that puts a start-up on hold in a terrible way that 3D printing can come and save in a day,” said Ralich added.

Other start-ups currently part of Greentown Labs include companies working on projects in the world of batteries, fuel cells, soil, and more. The incubator’s goal is to help start-up projects spread their ideas around the world and have a positive impact on their respective industries and on the environment.

“It’s a total revolution. There are so many climate change problems to solve. These are engineering issues in some cases, these are things that can be solved,” Ralich said. “The company that might come to Greentown next year might be a scratch on the back of a napkin, but we want to be in their home because you’re never more than a creative solution away from having a great impact.”


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