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Printer Hardware

A Solar-Powered 3D Printer Prints Glass From Sand 139

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the print-your-dishes-off-the-grid dept.
Tx-0 writes in with a story in Colossal Art & Design. From the article: "Industrial designer and tinkerer Markus Kayser spent the better part of a year building and experimenting with two fantastic devices that harness the sun's power in some of the world's harshest climates. The first he calls a Sun Cutter, a low-tech light cutter that uses a large ball lens to focus the sun's rays onto a surface that's moved by a cam-guided system. ... Next, Kayser began to examine the process of 3D printing. Merging two of the deserts most abundant resources, nearly unlimited quantities of sand and sun, he created the Solar Sinter, a device that melts sand to create 3D objects out of glass."
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A Solar-Powered 3D Printer Prints Glass From Sand

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  • Annealing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @03:59PM (#36603222) Journal

    I've got a passing interest in glasswork, and one of the things I learned is that it's more complicated than "melt into mold, let it cool". Glass has to go through a carefully controlled cool-down period so that the molecular structure will set up properly. Otherwise, the resulting object is far more brittle than it should be. If not done properly you can have cracks form during the cooling phase, ruining the object.

    Does the incremental deposition solve the annealing problem? Being able to make glass objects without having to carefully control the cool-down would be very nice.

  • by pnot (96038) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @04:30PM (#36603726)

    Set a bunch of these loose in the Sahara printing out solar panels.

    The Sahara Solar Breeder Foundation [ssb-foundation.com] is aiming at something rather similar: "Large scale/low cost production of solar-grade silicon from desert sand," on a truly impressive scale. It remains to be seen whether they can find the money and political will to get it on track, though.

  • by nschubach (922175) on Tuesday June 28, 2011 @04:52PM (#36604092) Journal

    You could create a machine that has a consistent speed based on a variable input (like a water wheel/windmill/steam/Stirling engine [you got the sun already...]) by using centrifugal governors and a conical gear. With enough machinery it could operate almost entirely without solar panels and create repetitive simple shapes like bricks for the actual building. Doing something more complex though and you'll want some programmable mechanism like a computer.

    I even wonder if you couldn't set up a mechanical sun tracker simply based on the heat it provides (ie, the sun moves over a plate which expands closing a circuit/friction plate that pushes itself out of the sun, cooling and opening back up.)

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