Karl from Light Manufacturing has been a user and sponsor of the Open Sun Harvesting Project for years now. His company has developed a system that uses heliostats to provide a clean and economical source of heat for the process of rotational molding. Rotational molding is a popular, and unfortunately typically energy wasteful, method for manufacturing hollow plastic parts. This is however not the case if the heat required for the process comes directly from the sun.
Here’s a quick video available from the Light Manufacturing website that gives a great explanation on the process of rotational molding.
I’m not sure of the specifics, but as far as I know they are using a derivative of the Arduino Sun Tracking / Heliostat program. Note that the program was in a much earlier stage of development when they first started experimenting with it, so they’ve probably branched off a bit. Either way, it is still very cool to know that the Open Sun Harvesting Project was able to contribute to such an ambitious project.
The two speakers in the image below were sent to me from Light Manufacturing as a sort of “sample” of exactly what they are able to do. When first asked for my address, I assumed that they just wanted to send a small part that was melted and molded by using the heat from the sun. Much to my surprise they sent a pair of fully operational outdoor loudspeakers!
The speakers were molded for the company Technomad who builds fully weatherproof speakers like the kind you might find in a stadium. There is even an article on the Technomad website outlining their collaboration with Light Manufacturing.
Although hard to photograph you can (sort of) see that the molding process is able to achieve enough fine detail to even include text in the finished product.
You can visit the Light Manufacturing website if you are interested in learning more about what they are doing. It’s always awesome to see people doing innovative things with heliostats!