3D Printing With Just Sun And Sand

solar sinter markus kayser photo

Images credit Markus Kayser

In the 1967 Star Trek Episode Arena, Kirk had to scrounge around a planet and find the materials necessary to build a primitive weapon. Imagine if they were making the show today; Kirk would emulate artist Markus Kayser and build a solar powered 3D printer and just print out a phaser.

Most 3D printers use resins and lasers, but Kayser uses nothing but sun and sand.

solar sinter markus kayser photo

Images credit Markus Kayser

According to Ponoko, Kayser says:

By using the sun's rays instead of a laser and sand instead of resins, I had the basis of an entirely new solar-powered machine and production process for making glass objects that taps into the abundant supplies of sun and sand to be found in the deserts of the world.

The big fresnel lenses concentrate enough heat to fuse the sand into glass; the photovoltaic panels run the electronics and the tracking motor.

solar sinter markus kayser photo

The designer explains on his website:

This process of converting a powdery substance via a heating process into a solid form is known as sintering and has in recent years become a central process in design prototyping known as 3D printing or SLS (selective laser sintering). These 3D printers use laser technology to create very precise 3D objects from a variety of powdered plastics, resins and metals - the objects being the exact physical counterparts of the computer-drawn 3D designs inputted by the designer.

Markus Kayser - Solar Sinter Project from Markus Kayser on Vimeo.

He concludes:

The machine and the results of these first experiments presented here represent the initial significant steps towards what I envisage as a new solar-powered production tool of great potential.

Indeed. The project is Kayser's thesis at the Royal College of Art; last year I thought Thomas Thwaite's Toaster Project, from the same school, was the most amazing school project I had ever seen. The RCA must be an amazing place.

More at Markus Kayser, via Ponoko

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