Solar Sinter Project: 3D Printing with Sunlight and Sand

3D Printing & Imaging Energy & Sustainability

I’m absolutely amazed by Markus Kayser’s Solar Sinter Project, a 3D printer that uses the sun for power and sand as its raw material:

In a world increasingly concerned with questions of energy production and raw material shortages, this project explores the potential of desert manufacturing, where energy and material occur in abundance. In this experiment sunlight and sand are used as raw energy and material to produce glass objects using a 3D printing process, that combines natural energy and material with high-tech production technology.

Solar-sintering aims to raise questions about the future of manufacturing and trigger dreams of the full utilisation of the production potential of the world’s most efficient energy resource – the sun. Whilst not providing definitive answers this experiment aims to provide a point of departure for fresh thinking.

[via @clothbot]

30 thoughts on “Solar Sinter Project: 3D Printing with Sunlight and Sand

  1. Pete Prodoehl says:

    Pretty amazing! I feel like we’re still in the early days of 3D printing, but the advances we’ve seen in the past few years are quite promising.

  2. A J says:

    I think this is fantastic – but I’m dying to know how strong the results are – is he picking up that glass bowl with cloth on his hands because it’s covered in deadly sharp spikes, or because it might crumble to pieces?

    1. Sebastian Rietig says:

      Because its made from fresh molten Sand and it’s frickin’ hot ;)

  3. Travis Howse says:

    That’s really really impressive, if a bit arthouse. The next big improvement would be an automatic sand-adder-and-leveller which should help with the regularity of the layer thickness, surface smoothness and packing density.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Is this real? The sand would need around 1700 degrees Celsius to melt. 

    1. Matthew Krawczun says:

      its very real.
      that’s a 4 foot plus fresnel lens you could melt steel at that focal point.

      1. dr says:

        Sand has a higher melting point than steel. Thus “sand casting” of steel and cast iron.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow~~~~ Another 3D printing project! Promising!
    I’m curious about the potential for every household to own a 3D printer in the near future,  customized with the best energy and material supply in your region. 

  6. VRAndy says:

    Perfect Sci-Fi technology for the end of the civilization, or the colonizing of a new (but sunny) world.

    Really wish the video had ended with a close-up of the bowl.

  7. Russell says:

    I would like to design something where the fabricator is mobile. As it travels it adds sand and sinters it, repeatedly travelling over the same route. Eventually you get a large walled structure and enclosed domes that would last for centuries. You could put the thing on Mercury, Moon or Mars and build them autonomously, and with a bit of plaster, maybe have them suitable for habitation.

  8. PsySciGuy says:

    Wonder if this is based on the Sci Fi story in this book:

  9. מדפסות לייזר says:

    This is so very cool!!
    It’s like we’re in the future but also going back in time 

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to see a video of this solar sintering thing, rather than a video of what a cool video they can make…

  11. David Chatting says:

    On show in London at the RCA Show this week

  12. Eiki Martinson says:

    Am I the only one who thinks he should be wearing welding glasses while looking at the focal point?

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Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

View more articles by Matt Richardson


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