The Helioforge project is an open source effort to create accessible designs for self-replicating solar kilns and hydrogen crackers that utilize readily available resources. Please check us out on Facebook  or on Twitter, and feel free to engage with us on our wiki!

Please help contribute to this project on Indiegogo!

Play Video

This project could be a real game-changer for distributed manufacturing. VERY exciting stuff!
—Donnie Maclurcan, Ph.D, Co-founder, Post Growth Institute


Our goal is to produce a entire catalog of open source devices and designs for DIY self-replicable solar forges that utilize common materials. If we succeed in our mission, it will be possible to manufacture any number of products at home using ubiquitous materials like sand, sun and water, and/or recycled polymers.


We envision the peer-to-peer sharing of self-replicable manufacturing tools to decentralize manufacturing. The essential idea is that all human manufacturing follows a trajectory that includes acquiring and shaping materials and that this arc can be subtended to fit in your backyard.


Specifically, we propose to demonstrate and document the manufacturing of a planar Fresnel lens, using a manufactured original lens to produce an impression in a bed of clay, and then using that very same lens to concentrate sunlight to generate the heat necessary to melt recycled glass into that impression.

A similar technique will allow the casting of the frame and heliostat armatures that hold the Fresnel concentrator. Simply by impressing existing pieces into a mold bed, carefully removing them, and then casting molten materials into the cavities left behind, the parts of a similar system can be fabricated.

By casting duplicate optics we intend to demonstrate the most difficult and essential operation in a self-replicating solar manufacturing process.


After winning the Post Growth Institute’s first ever Post Growth Challenge with a submission entitled “Self-Replication and Ubiquitous Resources”, the group began to organize a web infrastructure to capacitate the crowd sourced development of designs. The submission proposed a simple demonstration of the core technology. A commercially purchased polymer co-planar Fresnel lens is pressed into a bed of clay and that same lens is used to melt a recycled polymer (from food containers) into the impression. The entire demonstration is designed to cost less than $100 and take only a few hours.  Glass, however, is an important improvement over a polymer based lens because its optical efficiency and rigidity significantly increase the temperatures which can be produced.


Helioforge project does not intend to rest on these accomplishments for long. Eventually we hope to create designs for castable sieves, centrifuges, pug mills, and even an apparatus that will use sunlight and water, in conjunction with a catalyst and separator hood to produce hydrogen which can then be used to fuel homes and vehicles.  Lofty plans for sure, but with your ingenuity and help it can be done. Our motivation comes from the idea that we can all help one another without profit incentive or fear of scarcity, simply by recasting our present technologies into forms that can be reproduced utilizing ubiquitous materials and free manufacturing.

Once the core process has been fully developed it will be possible convey it via designs, illustration and videos on our public wiki and peer-to-peer, one back yard to the next.

Interested becoming a partner in this endeavor?

If you have facilities, domain specific knowledge, or wish to help out in some other way, we are interested! Please e-mail us at info@helioforge.org.

Copyright © 2013 Graphica, LLC.