Solar sintering, Super 8

Paul Raven @ 28-06-2011

Interesting: take the two things deserts have an abundance of – bright sunlight and sand – and use it to make stuff. Solar powered 3D-printing, basically. [via m1k3y]

Now, this is an art/design project, so more of a spur-for-thought than a realistic business proposition – I wouldn’t wanna have to maintain all the bearings and drives on that machine in a sandy environment, for a start – but the underlying point is sound: materials and energy are abundant. We just need to think of new ways to source and use them.

Speaking of 3D printing, though, there’s definitely a whole new flotilla of work coming down the pike for hungry IP lawyers. Via BoingBoing, we find Paramount Pictures sending a C&D notice to some guy who knocked up a rendering file for a gimcrack from the movie Super 8; apparently some other outfit will shortly be selling “official” versions of the box, but I’d be willing to bet the idea never occurred to Paramount until they’d seen this dude had taken the time to do it himself. But just how similar would the reproduction have to be to be considered a breach of copyright, anyway? I rather suspect that line will get drawn by whoever can afford to take it to court for longer than the other.

This isn’t the time for another debate on the validity of IP law – I think most of you know my stance on that already – but it’s always a good time to point out that this stuff is going to get harder to police and/or enforce at a geometric rate, assuming fabbing and rendering technologies continue to cheapen and mature as they are at present. We’re slowly approaching the Napster moment for physical objects, and I remain to be convinced that anyone in line to be steamrollered by the rise of ubiquitous reproduction of 3D objects has any plan in place beyond “sue ’em until they go away”… which is their choice to make, of course, but it’s not a strategy that seems to have worked very well so far.

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One Response to “Solar sintering, Super 8”

  1. Khannea Suntzu says:

    Imagine if they had developed this technology in the antique age. They could have actually – it doesn’t need computers and they did have mirrors. They could have had hundreds of mirror-based ‘bakers of stones’ in the desert, simmering together elaborate structures making trhem rize from the sand as phoenix sphinxes.

    Whole buildings! Imagine a few thousand years of human civilizations cindering sand into glass, structures tens of meters high of coalesced rock. Holy shit now imagine the same with robotic cindering driven with solar cells, automated in the Sahara, constantly moving about on full auto shovelling sand, erecting patterns of brown glass. A million solarcinderrobots working years, day after day, it would be a geological force.