Ever wonder what happened to BigBelly, the solar-powered trash compactor created with help from an array of design tools, including SolidWorks? Well, BigBelly is now a big hit in cities in over 40 states, the most recent to sing its praises-the city of Philadelphia, which aims to save over $13 million over 10 years deploying 500 BigBelly units to cut collection costs by 70%. If you want a closer look at how BigBelly works-and a peak at the inner workings of all of the electronics–check out this video, which peels back the covers on the unit.
BigBelly’s design concept was to refashion a standard trash compactor into a solar unit. While simplistic in concept, it involved some significant rethinking of the design to minimize energy consumption to keep the units self-contained and relatively small in stature. Using the 3-D tools, the design team created a drive chain mechanism to power the compaction system, which uses no hydraulic fluids and consumes minimal energy. There are also microprocessors and sensors to help determine when the trash needs to be compacted and collected and even a Web portal to allow city customers to monitor the status of their units.
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.