Making 3-D Sand Items Via Solar Energy

Often, when we report on feats of solar engineering or design, the subject has something to do with a device that harnesses solar energy for generating electricity, lighting, water purification or even cooking. Occasionally we also see solar power integrated into art or structures which may or may not provide some side benefit to its onlookers. This design, however, uses solar energy in multiple ways to create art or functional objects…out of sand.

Many of us have played around with a magnifying glass on a bright, summer day, intensely focusing sunlight for the purpose of burning a hole through a piece of paper or even frying up insects, but this machine, built by Markus Kayser, takes the concept of magnified sun power to a whole new level. Kayser calls it a SolarSinter and it uses Fresnel lenses and solar panels in a very interesting way.

Solar machine makes 3-D objects by melting sand

image via Hack A Day/Markus Kayser

In a video below we found through the folks at Hack A Day, we see Kayser driving to some remote location in the Sahara Desert, later dragging his machine to a clear area where he sets it up to perform its magical 3-D art creations. A series of magnifying glasses resides at the top of a structure, which focuses a quarter-sized spot of sunlight on specified points within a large box filled with sand. Powered by electricity generated from two solar panels located at the bottom of the machine, a computer controls a series of motors that move the “sandbox” around as the highly focused sunlight brings  the sand to its melting point.

After removing the surrounding sand, the machine’s work is finally exposed. First, an odd 3-dimensional shape, then a pretty impressive 3-dimensional bowl. We don’t know if that bowl will hold water but, does it really matter? The machine’s cool factor is pretty off-the-charts and it has a way of inspiring ideas around manufacturing objects with totally raw materials.

Markus Kayser – Solar Sinter Project from Markus Kayser on Vimeo.

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