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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

Printer creates 3D objects using sun and sand

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CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

(Credit: Marcus Kayser)

Industrial designer Marcus Kayser has created a 3D printer that uses only natural resources to create objects.

Glass, as most people know, is created from molten sand. It occurs naturally in fulgurite — when lightning strikes a sandy bed — or in obsidian, when silicate lava cools down after exiting a volcano.

Kayser's printer, called the Sun Sinter, uses the sun to heat the sand. Focused through a magnifying Fresnel lens, the heat beam follows a pre-programmed path to build a specified object.

At this stage, the Sun Sinter still looks fairly labour-intensive; as you can see in the video below, in which Kayser spent two weeks in the Sahara testing his machine, he needed to stand by to smooth more sand over the object between layers.

However, it still looks fairly experimental; and, as Kayser says, the object creation isn't the main point right now: "Solar sintering aims to raise questions about the future of manufacturing, and triggers 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."

At any rate, seeing it in action is really cool. Check it out.

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

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