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Joshua M. Pearce is an academic engineer at Michigan Tech known for his work on protocrystallinity, photovoltaic technology, open-source-appropriate technology, and open-source hardware including RepRap 3D printers.

Joshua M. Pearce
Joshua Pearce.jpg
Alma materThe Pennsylvania State University
Scientific career
Fieldsphotovoltaics, open-source-appropriate technology, materials engineering, protocrystallinity, open-source hardware
InstitutionsMichigan Tech, Queen's University
Doctoral advisorChristopher R. Wronski
WebsiteMichigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Group

Dr. Pearce received his Ph.D. at The Pennsylvania State University, where his work on protocrystallinity helped develop low-cost amorphous silicon solar photovoltaic technology.[1] His solar research continues.[2][3] For example, his research group published a levelized cost of electricity study[4] on solar energy showed solar electricity was economically competitive with fossil fuels over wide geographic regions.[5][6] His research into BDRF modeling[7] of reflectors showed potential solar systems output increases of 30%.[8]

However, he is also a vocal advocate of an open-source approach to technical development.[9] For his work related to open-source nanotechnology,[10] Ars Technica compared him to American software freedom activist Richard Stallman.[11] He applied open-source 3-D printing and electronics to scientific equipment design,[12] where he has claimed both superior innovation and lower costs.[13][14] Reviewing his book Open-Source Lab, 3-D Printing Industry wrote, "This is a manual that every scientist should read and it holds a message so powerful and disruptive that the Anarchist Cookbook is a fairy tale in comparison."[15]

His research has shown that printing household items with a RepRap is less costly[16] and better for the environment[17] than purchasing conventionally manufactured goods. Similarly, his group developed the recyclebot, a waste plastic extruder, which drops the cost of 3D printing filament from $35/kg to ten cents per kg while making recycling even more environmentally beneficial.[18][19]

In 2013 his group released an open-source 3D printer capable of printing in steel, which cost less than US$1,200.[20][21] in order to encourage more rapid technological development according to Scientific American.[22] This cost reduction was significant as the New York Times reported commercial metal printers at the time cost over US$500,000.[23]

He further developed inexpensive methods such as SODIS to disinfect drinking water in the developing world, using sunlight, water bottles, and salt.[24] Recently, the MIT Sloan Management Review reported that Dr. Pearce has combined many of his research areas developing solar powered 3-D printers to drive sustainable development.[25]



  1. ^ "Control of Staebler-Wronski defects in hydrogenated amorphous silicon for the de". Bibcode:2004PhDT........88P.
  2. ^ "Efficiency breakthrough in solar thermal cells - Cogeneration & On-Site Power Production". Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  3. ^ Herman K. Trabish (2011-12-07). "New Study: Solar Grid Parity Is Here Today". Greentech Media. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  4. ^ Branker, K.; Pathak, M. J. M.; Pearce, J. M. (2011-12-01). "A review of solar photovoltaic levelized cost of electricity". Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 15 (9): 4470–4482. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2011.07.104.
  5. ^ "Cost of solar falling according to Queen's study". CTVNews. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  6. ^ "New Study: Solar Grid Parity Is Here Today". Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  7. ^ Andrews, R. W.; Pollard, A.; Pearce, J. M. (2015-11-01). "Photovoltaic System Performance Enhancement With Nontracking Planar Concentrators: Experimental Results and Bidirectional Reflectance Function (BDRF)-Based Modeling". IEEE Journal of Photovoltaics. 5 (6): 1626–1635. doi:10.1109/JPHOTOV.2015.2478064. ISSN 2156-3381.
  8. ^ "Researchers Discover How to Shine More Sunlight on Solar Panels, Increase Output By 30% | IHS Electronics360". Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  9. ^ "Podcast Interview". 2012-09-14. doi:10.1126/science.1228183. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  10. ^ Timmer, John (2012-11-21). "Stallman's got company: Researcher wants nanotech patent moratorium". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  11. ^ Pearce, Joshua M. (2012). "Make nanotechnology research open-source". Nature. 491: 519–521. doi:10.1038/491519a.
  12. ^ Pearce, Joshua M. (2012-09-14). "Building Research Equipment with Free, Open-Source Hardware". Science. 337 (6100): 1303–1304. doi:10.1126/science.1228183. ISSN 0036-8075. PMID 22984059.
  13. ^ "3D Printing Brings the Science Lab to Your Backyard". Popular Mechanics. 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  14. ^ McMurtrie, Beth (2013-03-29). "Lab Equipment Made With 3-D Printers Could Cut Costs by 97% - Percolator - The Chronicle of Higher Education". Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  15. ^ Sher, Davide. "Prof. Pearce's "Open-Source Lab" Unleashes the Power of 3D Printed Lab Equipment". 3D Printing Industry. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  16. ^ Study: At-home 3-D printing could save consumers 'thousands' - CNN, 7/31/2013
  17. ^ 3D printers use less energy than traditional manufacturing - Gigaom - available 3/10/2013.
  18. ^ Michigan Tech Prof Says You Can Save Big With Milk Jug Recycling For 3D Printing - CBS 3/5/2014
  19. ^ Need 3D printer filament? Got milk? - Ars Technica
  20. ^ Loose screw? 3-D printer may soon forge you a new one - NBC News
  21. ^ Testing your metal- Newsweek
  22. ^
  23. ^ An Inexpensive Way to Print Out Metal Parts - The New York Times, 2013/12/10/
  24. ^ Cuda, Gretchen (2012-05-08). "Recipe For Safer Drinking Water? Add Sun, Salt And Lime : The Salt". NPR. Retrieved 2013-09-05.
  25. ^ "The Revolution Will Be Customized (and Recycled and Solar-Powered)". MIT Sloan Management Review. Retrieved 2016-02-26.