You may have heard of 3D printed clothes, food, medical models and even fire arms, but have you ever imagined stepping into a 3D printed house? The World’s Advanced Saving Project (WASP) group in Italy have, and they now believe that they are close to making it a reality.
Last weekend at a 3D printing event in Massa Lombarda, WASP presented BigDelta, the largest delta 3D printer in the world. Standing at a staggering 12 metres high, the printer is now primed to attempt to 3D print a basic house.
The Independent reports, ‘The machine works in exactly the same way as a regular 3D printer. The huge metal frame supporters a nozzle linked to a computer, which dispenses clay in a pre-defined pattern. As the nozzle moves round and round and adds layers to the structure, a functioning shelter can be created quickly and easily.’
According to Digital Trends, WASP has outfitted the printer to use local materials such as dirt or clay, and built it to function using less than 100 watts of power. In August, WASP researchers also reported creating the first modular reinforced concrete beam. They used the BigDelta to develop a system to produce concrete elements that can be assembled with steel bars and beams or can compose pillars in reinforced concrete.
The WASP project team considers the printer as a revolutionary product that can help meet the needs of the world’s growing population for adequate low-cost housing. The team notes, ‘By 2030, international estimates foresee a rapid growth of adequate housing requirements for over 4 billion people living with yearly income below $3 000 [EUR 2 700]. The United Nations calculated that over the next 15 years there will be an average daily requirement of 100 000 new housing units to meet this demand.’
As The Independent suggests, BigDelta could be used in disaster-stricken areas or in developing countries, where solid and long-lasting shelter is needed, rather than just a tent or prefabricated structure.
The WASP team says that its vision goes beyond providing low-cost housing. With BigDelta, WASP aims to nurture a new ‘maker economy’ in which everything can be manufactured by users through shared solutions. Leveraging the power of 3D printing, the maker economy model would, according to WASP, help to meet our primary necessities regarding work, health and housing.
While BigDelta may be the world’s largest delta 3D printer, WASP is not the only team with its eye on 3D construction. According to the Independent, Dus Architects in Amsterdam are currently attempting to build a completely 3D printed canal house.
And there’s more to come in the future. ‘Why should we set any limits?’ asks the WASP team. ‘One day we will also be able to print more complex structures, such as bridges. And there will be broader space for creativity.’