Markus Kayser’s Solar Sinter project takes the desert’s two most abundant resources, sunlight and sand and puts them to work manufacturing glass objects. Kayser loads the sand into a solar-powered 3-D printer where it serves as the raw material for glass. In a process that’s fascinating to watch, concentrated sunlight replaces the laser typically found in 3D printers, melting sand (instead of resin) in patterns to form an abstract sculpture or, more usefully, a bowl.
Kayser tested the Solar Sinter for two weeks in the Sahara desert in May of this year; you can see the results in the video below. The project is currently on display at the Royal College of Arts in London.