News: Amazing Solar-Powered Printer Uses Sunlight to Sculpt 3D Objects Out of Sand

Amazing Solar-Powered Printer Uses Sunlight to Sculpt 3D Objects Out of Sand

No matter if you've used one or not, you've got to admit that 3D printers are pretty darn awesome, especially the self-replicating ones that extrude molten plastic and the shoebox-sized versions that use mesmerizing stereolithography to build tiny objects layer by layer. But what's even cooler? A solar-powered printer that uses the sun's energy to melt sand and make 3D objects out of glass.

In any desert around the world, there are two elements that dominate—sun and sand. In other words, energy and material. Markus Kayser's printing project explores the potential of desert manufacturing with the Solar Sinter, a 3D printer that "combines natural energy and material with high-tech production technology."

Amazing Solar-Powered Printer Uses Sunlight to Sculpt 3D Objects Out of Sand

This type of prototyping 3D printer utilizes a process called SLS (selective laser sintering) which uses lasers to convert powdery substances (plastic, resins and metals) into very precise 3D solid forms, based off computer-drawn three-dimensional designs. But the Solar Sinter is much more fascinating, using the sun's rays in lieu of lasers and sand instead of powdered resins.

Amazing Solar-Powered Printer Uses Sunlight to Sculpt 3D Objects Out of Sand

When heated to the melting point and then cooled, silica sand solidifies into glass form.

Amazing Solar-Powered Printer Uses Sunlight to Sculpt 3D Objects Out of Sand

Check out Kayser's fully-automated computer driven version of his solar-sintering machine in the video below, demonstrated in the Sahara Desert near Siwa, Egypt.

Solar Sinter

The Solar Sinter is by far the coolest 3D printer I've ever seen. No doubt about it. But that's not all that came from Kayser's ingenious mind—the inspiration for this project came from his previous solar-powered machine, the Sun Cutter. It's a low-tech device that "uses pure sunlight,
focused by a ball lens, to repeatedly cut programmed shapes in up to 0.4mm thick plywood as well as paper and card."

Sun Cutter

As the surface moves under the magnified light it cuts 2D components just like a laser. Amazing.

Amazing Solar-Powered Printer Uses Sunlight to Sculpt 3D Objects Out of Sand

"Each pair of sunglasses made, even though very similar in shape, is still unique, creating a juxtaposition between the machine-made, repetitive and individual, unique object."

Amazing Solar-Powered Printer Uses Sunlight to Sculpt 3D Objects Out of Sand

For more information and photos of the Solar Sinter and Sun Cutter, visit Markus Kayser's website.

Amazing Solar-Powered Printer Uses Sunlight to Sculpt 3D Objects Out of Sand


3 Comments

I would have never in a million years thought of that.

Wow this is awesome! I love how people are becoming so creative and thinking outside the box. I believe renewable energy and reusable materials are so important. That's why I like 2BOT, a 3D printer company. One of the materials the machine, the ModelMaker, uses is wax, which can be reusable.

nice reminder of the power in fresnal lense!

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