CSIRO researchers have built a gigantic printer that spits out solar cells at a rate of about ten metres a minute.

The printer system uses existing technology to embed polymer solar cells (also known as organic solar cells) in thin sheets of plastic. The A3-sized panels are created by laying a liquid photovoltaic ink onto the thin, flexible plastic.

According to the researchers, the technology is so simple that it could soon mean everyone has the ability to print their own solar panels at home.

Project co-ordinator and University of Melbourne researcher, Dr David Jones, said that “We’re using the same techniques that you would use if you were screen printing an image on to a T-Shirt”.

Near-term uses include putting the panels onto laptop computers or mobile phones. Eventually, they could be printed on to multi-storey building windows or roofs.