How to make a glass bowl out of sand and sunlight, in the middle of the Sahara

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This gorgeous, mysterious video is a glimpse of one possible Earth future. Imagine that we abandon fossil fuels for solar, but not before our once-green world grows sprawling new deserts.

Our communities shrink, but our technology continues to flourish. Instead of giant, energy-guzzling factories we move toward renewable forms of craft production. Here we see what tomorrow's production facilities might look like — this glass "factory" is operated by one person, who uses nothing but sunlight and sand to feed his 3D printer. The results are glass components for futuristic machines, and a simple bowl.

Maker Markus Kayser explains the Solar Sinter project on his website:

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.

Solar-sintering aims 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. Whilst not providing definitive answers, this experiment aims to provide a point of departure for fresh thinking.


Beautiful and alien, this method of production is fascinating to watch — especially when the sand crinkles up into liquid glass — and shows us a possible way forward after the fall of mass industrialization. Imagine what the world would be like if we produced the essentials of civilization, from clothing to computer components, using 3D printers powered by the sun.

via Markus Kayser's website (Thanks, Kirstin Butler!)