How many times have you been frustrated by an inferior product, only to chuck it in the trash or buy a replacement and then go on about your day? Many. We love to complain, but it’s harder to take the time to come up with a better solution. That’s not the style of independent inventors Shawn Frayne and Alex Hornstein, however. When they encounter lackluster performance in a product, they see it as an opportunity to change the world.

Frayne and Hornstein are the bright minds behind the Solar Pocket Factory, a recently funded Kickstarter project that has the potential to revolutionize the world of microsolar panels. By creating a machine that can automate the microsolar manufacturing process and using the money saved on assembly to invest in longer-lasting materials, the pair claim they can make microsolar panels about 30 percent cheaper than the existing panels, and make them last five times longer in the sun.

After about six months of international exploration, Frayne and Hornstein realized that most microsolar panels were far too expensive and unreliable for the average consumer, and developing nations (which need microsolar badly) weren’t even in the ballpark. They discovered that most of this high cost came from the fact that microsolar panels are often slowly assembled by hand. Even with this painstaking process, 15 percent of the panels never make it out the factory door because they’ve been soldered incorrectly.

The duo realized that through automation, they could speed up the manufacturing process while drastically reducing human error. So, they got to work building a tiny, portable factory that could do just that (see above). Once the machine was happily pressing out microsolar panels, they decided it was time to share it with the world.

Instead of patenting and profiting from their invention, Frayne and Hornstein just want to get it into the hands and workshops of technicians around the globe. So, with about $75,000 in help from Kickstarter backers, they’ve opensourced the specs for most of their projects, and plan to do just that. Keep up with the duo’s solar adventures here.

Photo credit: Frayne and Hornstein/Kickstarter