Arduino, Inspiration, Objects
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Solar Sinter [Objects, Arduino]


Amongst the wonderful collection of work currently on show at the Royal College of Art, in the corner on the first floor sits an installation/object by Markus Kayser called Solar Sinter. An MA Design Products student project, Solar Sinter is probably one of the most inspiring projects this year, aiming 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.

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.

In August 2010 Markus Kayser took his first solar machine – the Sun-Cutter (see video below) – to the Egyptian desert in a suitcase. This was a solar-powered, semi-automated low-tech laser cutter, that used the power of the sun to drive it and directly harnessed its rays through a glass ball lens to ‘laser’ cut 2D components using a cam-guided system. In the deserts of the world two elements dominate – sun and sand. The sun offers the energy and sand an unlimited supply of silica in the form of quartz. When silicia sand is heated to melting point, once cooled solidifies as glass. This process of converting a powdery substance via a heating process into a solid form is known as sintering and has in recent years become a central process in design prototyping known as 3D printing or SLS (selective laser sintering). By using the sun’s rays instead of a laser and sand instead of resins used in modern 3D printers, Markus 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.

The Solar-Sinter was completed in mid-May and later that month Markus took this experimental machine to the Sahara desert near Siwa, Egypt, for a two week testing period. The machine and the results shown here represent the initial significant steps towards what Markus envisages as a new solar-powered production tool of great potential.

The Solar-Sinster uses ReplicatorG software, an open source 3D printing program. For more information, see

The project is currently on show at the Royal College of Art graduate exhibition and I agree “a ‘must-see’ event for anyone interested in twenty-first century art and design”.

24 June to 3 July 2011.
Royal College of Art
Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU

Project Page

(Thanks to Steffen for pointing it out)

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  • Kim


  • Love it! Where can I get the sunglasses?

  • amazing

  • Excellent work!  Lets send one with the next moon mission to start building structures up there.

  • This is just so awesome! :D

  • incredibly inspiring stuff, worthy of a real comment not just a retweet

  • thank you for sharing this!

  • Philipp Schilcher

    great work! love the visual style of the video!

  • Rapatan

    If you live in a city them you might like your own metal powder & solar cell printer,
    first comes the metal printer later the solar cell attachment ,  its cool to print titanium parts
    its 1 year in to development the more people involved the better the result
    there’s lots of roles from design to engineering to  promotion,
    type MetalicaRap in google you will see our wiki
    Hope to see you  soon!

    make sure you leave a comment on the site in the forum

  •  It’s best to think ahead from as early as possible when preparing these tactics of course– it can be a real nightmare to pick apart a model and add support structures or cut it apart.

  • flux_capacitor

    2 years later, the European Space Agency listened to you!

  • wow!