Printing Affordable Houses With a 12 m Tall 3D Printer

September 10, 2015 | 13:59
Printing Affordable Houses With a 12 m Tall 3D Printer
Printing Affordable Houses With a 12 m Tall 3D Printer
The Italian company WASP which aims to print inexpensive eco-friendly houses, is about to reveal its 12 meter tall BigDelta printer in Massa Lombarda, Italy next week.

WASP is an unusual company with a big dream. Founded in 2012, it wants to provide a solution for the shortage of affordable housing in the poorer regions of the world. To accomplish that the WASP team is working on a 3D printing system capable of printing large structures of clay. Leveraging a resource that is often abundantly available locally should keep costs down and reduce the impact on the environment.

The team has been working on BigDelta, a 12 meter tall delta 3D printer. The system is about to be presented at La Realtà del Sogno (The Reality of the Dream) festival taking place on September 18–20. A technology-meets-art event with talks, workshops, concerts and a theater play featuring BigDelta as its stage.

Here you can see a 4 meter prototype of BigDelta in action.

Experimenting with materials

Sustainability is also an important element in the WASP vision. Ultimately the team wants to print houses using only natural materials. They're experimenting with different materials and mixtures to create robust structures. Although the WASPers are no fan of cement - it's a CO2 spewing giant responsible for 5% of emissions worldwide – it too finds its way into the experimental mix sometimes. In one case they made a mixture of cement, clay and seeds. To counter the propensity of clay to shrink over time, the seeds of weeds absorb the water from the clay and sprout roots in the structure to improve its strength.

WASP, which stands for World Advanced Saving Project, comes across less as a company and more as a container entity to realize visions. It finances the BigDelta by selling smaller fully developed 3D printing systems. Instead of a corporate mission it is guided by a manifesto with statements like: “WASProject comes from a challenge that art throws at science: finding solutions to make dreams come true”.

I hope they make the BigDelta a success. Both as an affordable housing machine and as a stage for theatrical plays.

Here is a video of a WASP knowledge expedition to Aït Ben Haddou in Morocco where houses are traditionally made of clay. They went there to “start from tradition and try to improve it with modern technology

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