Clean technology company SunPods Inc. is using software from Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) to design and manufacture modular solar array units that help make solar power more accessible and affordable.
Unlike conventional customized ground-mounted solar arrays that require extensive onsite assembly and construction, SunPods (which stands for “Sun Power on Demand”) are configured and built in a factory before being delivered to virtually any site — a process that reduces installation time by up to 85 percent.
The combination of Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD software has helped SunPods to design and model its arrays without the need for physical prototypes or on-site testing. During the product development process, the company was able to test and evaluate 23 different digital prototypes. Additionally, Autodesk Showcase software enabled SunPods to more effectively demonstrate the innovative concept to customers by creating realistic animations placing the ideas in context.
“At SunPods, we want to provide sun power on demand,” said Michael Gumm, managing partner and cofounder of SunPods. “At every stage, Autodesk software has helped us turn that vision into a reality and speed up our progression from ‘good idea’ to great product.”
Faster Time to Market with Digital Prototyping
As a member of the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program — which provides software to emerging clean tech companies in North America, Europe and Japan — SunPods gained access to a variety of Digital Prototyping tools to speed the development of its modular power unit. Autodesk reseller, KETIV Technologies, helped provide training and support to enable SunPods to more quickly implement Digital Prototyping into the design process.
Each of the pre-manufactured, self-contained units is capable of generating up to 3.82 kilowatts of power — enough for a small residence. Thanks to its modular design, multiple units can be connected to one another to scale energy needs to power larger projects.
The marketplace has embraced the company’s innovative ideas: SunPods have now been deployed for commercial, residential, educational and agricultural projects across the United States. A cluster of three SunPods generates 750 kilowatts per month for a private home in Hollister, Calif., for example, while a cluster of 25 SunPods generates 10,000 kilowatts per month for a high school in Presidio, Texas.
“Digital Prototyping makes it easier for young clean tech companies with limited resources to develop products that can have a profound impact on the world around us,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president, Manufacturing Industry Group at Autodesk. “The work SunPods is doing is incredibly important and we’re glad Autodesk software can help play a role in making the transition to solar energy more financially accessible to more people.”
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