3D printing using only sunlight and no plastic

20131216-083204.jpg McKinsey & Co described ‘advanced materials’ as being one of the disruptive technologies happening over the next 10 years. When I wrote about ‘advanced materials‘ early this year I approached it from a materials perspective – how will materials become more advanced? But I missed the obvious – how will the way we work with materials change or disrupt? Markus Kayser’s SolarSinter has the potential to disrupt manufacturing when living within the means of one planet through his 3D printer that uses sunlight and sand to make glass objects.

Markus describes the inspiration for his idea “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 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.”

Wow, we need more dudes like this guy.

He is currently in the US at the MIT Mediated Matter Group, which focusses on ‘how digital and fabrication technologies mediate between matter and environment to radically transform the design and construction of objects, buildings, and systems’.

Mediate between matter and environment! I have to do some research on those guys.

So did it work?


After initial testing “The Solar-Sinter was completed in mid-May and later that month I took this experimental machine to the Sahara desert near Siwa, Egypt, for a two week testing period. 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.”

Absolutely mate. I wonder what we could do with this in Australia?

Make sure you check out his website.

3 Comments on “3D printing using only sunlight and no plastic”

  1. brilliant! we need more people who can come to things from a different perspective.
    oh wait, that’s why we have creativity in schools.
    oh no. wait. we don’t have it. we keep getting rid of it in favour of …
    sorry. old man’s rant over.

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