One individual who may need some unusual printer supplies is the designer of a prototype 3D device that exploits solar power.

Markus Kayser's invention uses special lenses to focus the sun's energy into a concentrated beam that has the effect of a laser and can be directed to cut out a shape, reports.

While he first put it to use making items out of thin plywood, he has since adapted it to use another natural resource – sand from the Sahara desert.

Mr Kayser's design is now able to melt sand into glass in order to produce 3D objects.

He explained on his website how "by using the sun's rays instead of a laser and sand instead of resins, I had the basis of an entirely new solar-powered machine and production process for making glass objects".

Although the design is a prototype, many people believe standard 3D printers could become commonplace in the near future, with CNet recently reporting that advances in technology and significant reductions in cost are making the machines more feasible.