Software and tools

Several diffent types of software and tools are required in the production process of the open fuel cell, as you can see in the diagrams about the manufacturing process (

The origins of the open fuel cell can be traced back to a tailor made fuel cell designed to conduct the experiments involved in a pre-industrial research project. To be able to adapt the cell design and the production instantly to the actual requirements that may pop up during such research projects all design and manufacturing were adapted to meet the requirements of the rapid prototyping process using up to date technology. This means that the design process was performed to the greater extend making use of the Computer Aided Design (CAD). Regarding the manufacturing process most of the components were produced using 3D-printers and CNC milling machines. Since these machines are controlled by a computer most of the work involved in the manufacturing process can be summarised as the Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM). With the development and manufacturing of the Open Fuel Cell being the state of the art of the rapid prototyping you will get a deep insight into the industrial production process of the product design process once you start building your own Open Fuel Cell or modifying it.

At this point we like to mention that we do not have any relations to the manufacturers or distributers of the mentioned software and tools what so ever. All according information mentioned on the Open Fuel Cell project reflect our own experience we gathered using the mentioned software and devices. Of cause we were not able to e.g. test all the different types of 3D printers available for the hobby market. Should you use a different type of software or different types of machining tools, please feel free to contribute your according designs and experience to the Open Fuel Cell community in order to skyrocket the fuel cell technology.

In order for you to know what types of software and tools you will encounter during that process we will give you an overview of the software, 3D-printers, CNC (milling) machines, irons and hotpress,  et cetera, that we are actually using for our work:


1.CAD Software:

  • FreeCAD: used to design all the home made components of the Open Fuel Cell

2. CAM Software:

  • Prusa Slicer: The software is used to translate the digital 3D-model into a program code for the 3D-printer to materialize the according designs
  • CamBam: This software is used to prepare the tool path for the CNC-milling machine based on the digital 3D-models

3. 3D printers: two different printing technologies were used during the Open Fuel Cell project so far:

  • FDM/Prusa I3MK3s: This versatile Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) printer was used to print the anode and cathode endplates including the gas tight channels as well as the sealing elements
  • SLA: A Stereolithography (SLA) printer was used to print the anode and cathode end plates

4. CNC workstation:

  • Stepcraft D420: The term workstation means that different tools could to mounted into the CNC-machine in order perform the different working steps like thread milling, milling of the flowfield plates and cutting of the edge reinforcements. This specific workstation is mentioned by the manufacturer to be specially designed for the amateur market.

5. Iron / hotpress:

  • CRICUT: This small handheld hot press originally designed for textile based artwork was used to pre assemble the MEA 

CNC machine

What is it for? From the explosion overview of the Open Fuel Cell it appeared that milling and cutting processes were used to either produce

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3D printing

What is it for? 3D printing technology has become a significant fabrication technology for the fabrication of prototypes as well as small production series during

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