Unlike many other 3D printers which use several components to make 3D models, there is now a 3D printer that uses the sun to make glass objects out of sand.
In the days of science class, where you potentially dozed off as your professor taught you basic information about molecular structures, one thing that you may have learnt, if you stayed awake long enough to pay attention, is that magnificently, glass is made out of sand. Should the tiny, grainy, and often itchy-being-your-toes particles on a beach get particularly warm, they’ll turn into glass, soon enough. This is important because when it comes to another wonderful science, the science of 3D printing, something else has to be put into a 3D printer in order for it to work and make ‘something’ out of ‘something’ else. But now, having found a way to combine the two processes, a 3D printer now exists to make glass wares out of a sandy desert.
Invented by design student Marcus Kaynter, his Solar Sinter project would be hard pushed to make anything heated by the dull and dreary, overcast skies of London, where he resided and knowing that his 3D printer needed some serious heat to work properly, he decided to take it to, where else? The Sahara Desert. Shipping the 200 pound 3D printer to Cairo, Egypt and driving 11 hours with the thing Kaynter was able to test his project. It works by using a slightly modified and upgraded version of the ‘hold a magnifying glass over a blade of grass and watch it burn’ theory, which here equates to a 4.5 foot lens, a motorised frame and solar panels that can pivot to a 45 degree angle to get the Sun’s rays.
The 3D printer is then hooked up to a laptop, with a CAD design, which in turn allows it to trace an object into the sand, layer by layer, allowing for some creative designs. Other than facing the obvious problem of the electronics overheating, which Kaynter soon solver by fashioning a fan out of soup can and a spinning DC motor, the creations, one of which you can see above, seem to turn out rather well.
We’ll keep you posted once we know more.
Source: Popular Science