The light from an industrial laser ends up costing on the order of $10
By comparison, the plain old thermal energy we now use to make products
costs a penny per kilowatt-hour. This thousand-to-one disadvantage in
energy costs makes it unlikely that lasers will directly form any but
the highest-value products.
Happily for us there is another source of intense optical radiation
which costs only 1 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour---the solar furnace.
While prototyping cannot wait for the sun to come out, delivery times of
a few days prove acceptable for most products. The flux a solar furnace
can generate is only about 10% that being used today in selective laser
sinterers. The consequences for selective solar sintering: slower part
production, and coarser resolution in any given material. Nonetheless, I
believe the range of potential products is vast.
Not much mirror area will be needed, as every square meter of direct
sunlight has the same radiant power as a 1 kw laser.
I am starting a "Making Things from Sunlight" web page at
http://geocities.com/solarsinter ." It is aimed mainly at students and
"homebrew" investigators interested in developing this new technology.
Right now the page it is just a slim list of links. Any pointers to
additional information would be greatly appreciated.
Heliakon Solar Sintering Lab
For more information about the rp-ml, see http://ltk.hut.fi/rp-ml/
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Tue Jun 05 2001 - 23:02:42 EEST