Totem, the "Solar lamp for togo" redesigned for new uses

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In May 2012 a group of timelab pro's developed the solar lamp for "Solar Zonder Grenzen" - a non-profit organisation that builds solar kiosks in Togo. The process was documented on this wiki page [1].

This project, Totem, is based on the design that was developed in timelab, with a few adaptations to the original concept. It uses the same technology (a battery charged with solar energy) but instead of a Calabas housing a new design was developed by product designer Alexandre Licata. Using a combined technique of 3D printing and silicone moulding, he created a modular design that can be personalised and produced in a fablab.



The lamp design is progressing, and we now have the switches, plug holes, battery and circuit. All these pieces are not assembled for now, they're just helping us for dimensions and to give the lamp size...


The design is now defined, in terms of global size. Graphic details remain to finish but we now have the principal elements:

From left to right: the main body, the high part of the body, and the cage for housing the battery,switch button and plug hole.


A new step in the design goal: the totem could be assembled to another totem, one above the other. Then, customers could built a huge totem made out of many totems. The goal is now to draw the assembly part (the link) between totems. This piece could be a part of the totem that customers can unclip to use it...

The totems will be casted in a silicon mold, made with the 3D printed totem (prototype). In that way, we can imagine several graphics for the high part of the body, then making different molds.


The different pieces are now good dimensionned, the cage fits perfectly in the body.

Here is the new idea for graphics, based on sunshine hours by months in specific locations (more details on the picture's description).

Bestand:Solardiagram.jpeg Bestand:Examples.jpeg

At left, the Marseille's curve. At right, Belgium's curve.




While printing the ultimate parts with definitive dimensions, here are pictures of the printed prototype... These pictures are just examples of presentation and assembly, before molding de lamp's body (white + orange part in one piece) The cage will be the only 3D printed part (it needs to be strong enough to maintain components).

Bestand:Totemproto.jpeg Bestand:Totemproto2.jpeg

Other pictures in this document : Bestand:Prototem.pdf


Time to make the silicon mold:

The two printed pieces of the body are stuck. The mold will be built in two parts. Today we cast the high part of the mold.

For casting the high part of the mold, we need to protect the low part with "plasticine" (yellow material)


Then, we put the piece in a box (the box is made with Makercase plans then laser cutted) and we make "holes" to fix the two pieces of the mold.


Thus we can cast the silicon  : (this casting technic is shown in this video)


We'll see the result tomorrow (24 hours waiting for the mold drying)


Casting the mold in silicon is a failure... Infact, the lamp shape is too complex to make a two-parts mold. The silicon can't capture the "hidden" shapes in this way of casting. Furthermore, casting a silicon piece in a silicon mold may be hard to achieve, because of two elastic materials. Here are some examples of failures:

Bestand:Siliconmold.jpeg Bestand:Siliconmold2.jpeg Bestand:Siliconmold3.jpeg

So, apparently, the solution may be to print the mold, then to cast silicon in it.


The mold is finally printed! Time to cast silicon...



After waiting all weekend long for the silicon drying, here is the piece. Unfortunately, the mold is still wrong because we can't unmold the "handles" of the lamp without cutting them. So the next step is to print new parts of the mold to unmold the piece correctly. However, the battery cage correctly fits in the body, so that's great.



After a second test, this is the third version of the mold. This version works perfectly.

Bestand:Mold3.jpeg Bestand:3tests.jpeg

To correctly cast the silicon,the mold needs to be totally closed and tight, thanks to a vice or clamps for example... Plasticine can be also used to clog the potential holes... Then here is the part simply unmolded


As you can see, there are some defaults of molding, which correspond to blanks between mold's parts.

Bestand:Default1.jpeg Bestand:Default2.jpeg


Cost price: 15€

Design goals

The lamp can be used as a:

  • wearable accessory
  • pendular lamp
  • table lamp / used on a flat surface
  • The parts should be easy to repair
  • The housing can be manufactured in a fablab
  • The housing can be personalised

Wish List

  • The lamp can be used on a bicycle

Totem.jpeg Bestand:Differentuses.jpeg

Research & Links/info

More information about the solar lamps that were developed by the timelab pro's in 2012: link title

BOM & Material cost

-Battery + circuit and led:

-Switch: 2,20€[2]

-Charger plug hole:

-Lamp body:




Deadline: Gentse Feesten, 18th of July


timelab Keywords

  • solar
  • rechargeable
  • 3D printing
  • silicon moulding
  • personalised
  • Rhino

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