For the architecture and construction fans; How 3D printing (and mud) may play a significant role in the buildings of tomorrow.
We’ve written about how 3D printing has not made a significant impact on construction. It seems this may be changing. One company has not only taken this industry head on, but it’s helping the poorest in society at the same time.
Italian firm WASP is using 3D printing to build affordable housing in poverty stricken areas. The printers use organic materials such as mud and natural fibers that are readily available and turns them into dwellings that can be easily transported to wherever is needed.
The inspiration for the idea came about after founder, Massimo Moretti, watched a particular type of wasp, a mud dauber, build its nest by depositing and shaping wet mud. Moretti wondered why he couldn’t use nature to build affordable houses in the same manner. And so the idea for his innovative project was born.
Using 3D printing and the natural resources, Moretti was not only able to reduce the cost of building, but the speed in which they could be constructed. Moretti’s company is rather appropriately called WASP. It actually stands for World’s Advanced Saving Project, and is dedicated to providing affordable housing to impoverished people worldwide, using inventive technology.
3D printing sturdy structures
A scaled down version of the WASP project was showcased at the Maker Faire in Rome, Italy, earlier this year. The faire is a mecca for debuting innovative technological projects from all over the world, and the WASP project was well received.
Mud huts are not a new as human dwellings, but the way the WASP project constructs them are. By 3D printing them in blocks, there is a much larger surface area, which means that they dry more quickly than traditional thicker bricks.
As the 3D bricks are triangular shaped, this also means that they are stronger and can hold more weight than a traditional rectangular brick, whilst also using less material. Using this shape of brick creates a larger interior space compared to traditional bricks, meaning homes can be built that are ten feet tall.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about all this is that you don’t need specialist printer. The 3D printer used for printing the mud bricks is fairly standard. You simply feed the mud and fibers into the extruder head and program whatever shape brick you require.
From idea to reality
Whilst no new houses have been built yet, WASP hope to start construction on their very first dwelling early next year. And although there are no plans for locations either, rumors are that the first mud houses could be situated in Sardinia, the Italian island just off the coast.
While this may be an odd choice for their first project location, the team at WASP state that they are keen to keep their first location close to home. This will enable them to iron out any problems that may occurs with the first build. After that, they are likely to move on to more remote areas.