‘solar sinter’, a solar-powered 3D printer by markus kayser, utilizes the abundant desert resources of sun and sand to manufacture products




london-based markus kayser, a masters candidate in design products at the royal college of art, converts the raw resources of sunlight and sand into glass products with his fully automated, solar-powered ‘solar sinter‘ 3D printer.


the device works from the same technique of sintering that is common to most 3D printer processes, heating a powder (here silicia sand) to its melting point and letting it cool and solidify (here into glass). ‘solar sinter’ utilizes the sun’s rays in place of a laser to selectively heat parts of the sand. the device moves automatically, positioning itself in proper focus relative to the sun’s rays; and by continually sweeping new layers of fresh sand over the selectively melted down parts, kayser builds up a 3-dimensional product.


kayser created and tested a manually operated ‘solar sinter’ in february 2011, before producing the fully automated, computer-driven version depicted here during two weeks of testing in the sahara desert. the machine utilizes replicatorG opensource software.



markus kayser: solar sinter 3D printer closer view of the device



markus kayser: solar sinter 3D printer detail view

markus kayser: solar sinter 3D printer labelled photograph of the machine




kayser notes: ‘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. the machine represent[s] the initial significant steps towards what I envisage as a new solar-powered production tool of great potential.‘


‘solar sinter’ can be seen at the royal college of art graduate exhibitions 2011, running now through july 3rd.



markus kayser: solar sinter 3D printer view of the sand being heated to melting by the focused rays of sunight



markus kayser: solar sinter 3D printer a bowl created using ‘solar sinter’



markus kayser: solar sinter 3D printer kayser setting up ‘solar sinter’ for testing in the sahara desert



documentation of ‘solar sinter’ at work: installing the machine onsite (1:04); the printing process (2:02)

via creativeapplications