Solar in RP's future?

From: Jim Mallos (
Date: Sat Jan 29 2000 - 14:43:36 EET

The light from an industrial laser ends up costing on the order of $10
per kilowatt-hour.

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 ." 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.

Jim Mallos
Heliakon Solar Sintering Lab

For more information about the rp-ml, see

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