Sun+Sand=Art: 3D Solar-Powered Printer Uses Two of Earth's Most Abundant Resources

This art project by Markus Kayser isn't meant to replace today's energy and labor intensive manufacturing any time soon. It's a concept piece. Kayser uses the strong sun in the Sahara Desert to melt sand into layers of glass. Watch the video in the right-hand window to see the process unfold. This takes DIY to a whole new level while making a point about the future of solar energy and 3D printing. As an aside, 3d printing will probably be one of the most disruptive technologies that no one in the main stream media is even talking about yet. A 3D printer has the capability of creating any shape, like Kayser's finished sculptures and bowls, or even bicycles.

According to Lori Zimmer at Inhabitat: Kayser's Solar Sinter is made up of seven stations: a photovoltaic panel, the focal point which draws the sun's rays on the melting sand, a sun tracker, fresnel lens (for magnifying the rays), a battery, controlling electronics, and finally a small, reflective, silver tent dubbed the "office," where Kayser can shield himself from the hot sun.

During the printing process, desert sand replaces traditional resin. The sands are melted and molded by the intensified power of the sun's rays into varying shapes using the 3D printer. The emerging objects, glowing and transforming as the sands melt together, evokes primitive Bronze-Age manufacturing--the transformative power of fire and flame. Kayser's conceptual art piece points out the possibilities in simple materials like of solar and sand (written off as a useless by-product of water scarcity by most people), and emphatically, the endless supply of the sun. Spain and Southern California understand this (watch a video of Gemasolar, the world's first 24/7 solar power plant in southern Spain)--both have several solar thermal projects that are pumping out energy or are under construction.

What other art/technology projects reveal technology's future?

Photos: Marcus Kayer's project- Vimeo sreengrab


Mike's picture

Thank you very much

Use of solar energy to operate 3D printers can very much balance the energy consumption on earth. It can lessen the amount of electrical energy being used for these purposes. It will also decrease the cost of 3D printers.