Graduate student invents solar-powered 3D printer that turns desert sand into glassware

Markus Kayser solar siter

Graduate student invents solar-powered 3D printer that turns desert sand into glassware

The sun’s rays can be harnessed to power everything from homes to gadgets, but one graduate student is using the sun to create a super-printer capable of printing elaborate glassware. Markus Kayser took his graduate project all the way to the sands of the Sahara in Egypt to create his innovative idea dubbed the ‘Solar Sinter’. The incredible design uses a 3D digital printer and the sun’s rays to turn the sand into incredible glass bowls and sculptures that are out of this world.

The Solar Sinter is made up of seven stations: a photovoltaic panel, the focal point for drawing the sun’s rays, a sun tracker, fresnel lens (for magnifying the rays), a battery, controlling electronics, and finally a silver tent dubbed the “office,” where Kayser can shield himself from the hot sun, while monitoring the process. Dragging the mini-station far into the desert, Kayser utilizes the abundant natural energy. The 3D printer has the capability of creating any shape, be it bowls, sculptures and even furniture. The machine is able to turn a remote desert area into a high-tech production facility for high-end design.


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Inside the solar powered 3D printer, the sands of the desert replace traditional resin in the production process. The sands are melted and molded into varying shapes using the 3D printer. The entire process is as beautiful as the objects themselves, beautifully glowing and transforming as the sands melt together, evoking footage of the birth of stars in space.

Kayser is dedicated to creating projects that seek to prove the possibilities that lay in the use of solar and desert production, and above all, its endless supply of raw solar power. His previous project, Sun Cutter, used the sun’s rays to make delicate cuts in wood, like a fine laser.



This article was originally published by Inhabitat in March, 2014.

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Kunlere Idowu

Kunlere is an environment and sustainable development strategist with years of active experience in environmental compliance monitoring and enforcement. You may follow him on Twitter via @kunlere_idowu


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