A company that manufactures 3D printers has taken the emerging industry to a whole new level. Inspired by the dwellings constructed by mud dauber wasps, the Italian company, World’s Advanced Saving Project (WASP), has developed a method to quickly and cheaply print a house using 3D printing technology.
The company has built the largest 3D printer known to exist. The machine, named BigDelta, is a hexagonal device at 20 feet wide and 40 feet tall. It has three arms that control the nozzle that sprays the printing material. The machine is easy and quick to set up and use, which is particularly useful in emergency situations. It can manufacture a 10-foot tall, igloo-shaped house with a 20-foot base in about one week.
The ability for fast and easy construction is exactly what the company wanted, as it hopes to provide housing for the poorest populations around the world. The cost for constructing one of these houses is just a few thousand dollars. The company also hopes to provide dwellings for those whose homes have been destroyed due to war or natural disasters.
The printer combines a mix of hay, rocks, dirt and water (or similar materials) into a clay-like mixture. It then forms the mixture into triangles and stacks them, creating a single-room, dome-like structure. The structure is designed to be low-maintenance and durable.
WASP director Massimo Moretti says that using materials that are easy to find and readily available (that is free or almost free) is the key to building this type of sustainable housing. One of the company’s goals is to build houses from materials found on-site.
WASP has been working on this and similar projects since 2003. In addition to BigDelta, the company has developed the Power Wasp, a smaller 3-D printer that can mill metal and wood and be used in developing countries. Last year, WASP brought a 20-foot version of BigDelta to the Rome Maker Faire. The company recently debuted its latest version in Italy and plans on conducting demonstrations around the world.
Other companies have had limited success in trying to develop a 3D printer to create a dwelling, but BigDelta is the first to print a house on-site in one piece.
While BigDelta is a prototype, WASP hopes a production model will be ready in a few years. Moretti and his colleagues continue to be motivated in light of the United Nations’ recent predictions that by 2030, the world’s population will grow so quickly that there will be a need for 100,000 new dwellings per day.