WASP 3D printer creates hyper-local affordable house with the help of clay and seeds for stability
The English word house derives directly from the Old English Hus meaning "dwelling, shelter, home, house,”. It is one of man's three most important necessities. The other two being food and clothing. Shelter protects man from wind and rain, and from hot and cold weather. It shields him against insects and wild animals, and helps protect him from other dangers. We as mankind have been building houses ever since we moved out of a nomadic lifestyle of a cave man to a civilized being. Throughout history of our species we have been building houses with our hands, however 3d printing is going to change that forever.
A company called WASP (World’s Advanced Saving Project) based out of Italy has recently announced a new way of building houses. A 3D printer that squirts out layers of mud and only uses the renewable energy resources available in the area. This may be the future of housing in the parts of the world where earth is more abundant, and affordable, however difficult to build because of the harsh terrain. The aim is to ease the labour-intensive process that building with earth requires, with an automated, digital fabrication process, using one of humanity's oldest building materials.
WASP director Massimo Moretti already has plans to take 3d printed house making to the next generation. He and his team’s vision are to be able to mix clay with seeds to grow roots inside for support. They call it Bio Housing.
The mission of this Italian company is to build ‘zero-mile’ 3D printed homes with the help of renewable resources and materials that are found in the surrounding area which was presented by their latest 3D printer, the BigDelta, at the MADExpo in Milan this week. While the company has already presented their vision of 3D printed homes with renewable resources in the past, but this was the first event when the company came up with its BigDelta 3D printer which will be 12 meters tall when it’s all completed.
Moretti and his company at a press release said “3D printing is a technology that offers several advantages. Implementing it with old and polluting materials such as traditional cement could lead to an exponential degeneration: tens of houses could be built in just one day and the potential of 3D printing could be exploited for speculative ends. We need to pay very close attention to the kind of research we want to take forward.”
While the challenge of 3D printing a house itself is one thing, Moretti’s goal of being able to 3D print a house using only the resources available in a certain geographical area using only renewable energy sources such as water, sun and wind power has certainly created a lofty goal - however this is the closest that WASP has ever come to realizing their vision.
Along with all the other challenges the most important and the biggest challenge on which the team has to work is that they have to assure that the clay does not shrink as it dries. In order to assure, that the clay does not shrink, the clay needs to be mixed with weeds of certain seeds in order to absorb the clay’s natural humidity. Once the seeds sprout, their roots become a naturally embedded “armor” and help reinforce the intended structure so that it doesn’t lose its dimensional stability.
Either way, the use of “armoring” 3D printed clay houses with roots and plant life is certainly one of the most unique applications of additive manufacturing we’ve seen yet in the architectural sector.