Markus Kayser, designer and innovator, has created a high tech sintering machine, the Solar Sinter harnesses the sun’s energy, and heat. Sintering is the process of turning powder into solid by heat. Markus Kayser has taken two of the most readily available resources from the desert, sun and sand, to be transformed with his machine.
The sintering machine, concentrates the sun’s energy in a solid beam that is between 1400 and 1600 degrees Celsius. Magnifying lenses atop the machine are responsible for trapping the sun and directing it into a single channel of light that is hot enough to melt sand. The lenses move to make sure their angle is optimized for sun-catching during all times during the day, the lenses also are then focused to create designs within a sand box on the lower part of the machine. The sand box is on a track with wheels so it can move in order to sinter an intercut form from sand.
In the sand box, glass is being made. The silica rich quartz found in sand, and the blazing sun over the Egyptian desert are combined to make glass artifacts in the Solar Sinter. Glass and quartz have very similar compositions, both are silica based. Anyone who has ever seen a beach after lightning has struck it can tell you that heat + sand= glass, something Markus Kayser has down to a science.
What Markus has created is an eco-effective 3D printer, in Kayser’s own words:
“[Sintering] has in recent years become a central process in design prototyping known as 3D printing or SLS (selective laser sintering). These 3D printers use laser technology to create very precise 3D objects from a variety of powdered plastics, resins and metals – the objects being the exact physical counterparts of the computer-drawn 3D designs inputted by the designer. By using the sun’s rays instead of a laser and sand instead of resins, I had the basis of an entirely new solar-powered machine and production process for making glass objects that taps into the abundant supplies of sun and sand to be found in the deserts of the world.” (markuskayser.com)
Just like other 3D printers, a design is imputed into a computer, which tells the lenses controlling the concentrated heat ray to move over the sand according to an ordered pattern. Layer by layer, sand is melted into glass, eventually forming a solid form. The Solar Sinter can make a bowl (video below) and other 3D shapes with precision.
The Solar Sinter is a great example of nature and design working together, the machine realizes the potential of objects and elements organically around us, turning them into something useful or at least interesting. In addition to using natural elements for production, the Sinter’s batteries are powered by solar panels as well.
A statement by Markus Kayser:
“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.” (Dezeen.com)
Using sun and sand from the desert, is almost like taking salt water out of the ocean in terms of accessibility ease. With sand in no short supply, the Solar Sinter could become a sustainable pottery crafter for those in hot, dry, and sandy places.
What makes it Green:
The Solar Sinter is “green” in a variety of ways, one, it uses solar energy for power and heat, two, it uses an abundant natural resource, sand, and three, the Solar Sinter encourages people to think about other ways the gifts of nature can be used in an ecologically sound way even if it still involves high-tech technology.