German designer Markus Kayser has built a 3D-printing machine that uses sunlight and sand to make glass objects in the desert.
Called The Solar Sinter, the device uses a large Fresnel lens to focus a beam of sunlight, creating temperatures between 1400 and 1600 degrees Celsius. This is hot enough to melt silica sand and build up glass shapes, layer by layer, inside a box of sand mounted under the lens. Solar-powered motors move the box on an x and y axis along a computer-controlled path and a new layer of sand is sprinkled on top after each pass of the light beam. Light sensors track the sun as it moves across the sky and the whole machine rotates on its base to ensure the lens is always producing the optimum level of heat. Once all the layers have been melted into place the piece is allowed to cool and dug out from the sand box. Kayser developed the project while studying on the MA Design Products course at the Royal College of Art.