Mar. 19, 2015 | By Simon

Although we’ve been seeing quite a few concepts for housing designs that rely completely on additive manufacturing technologies for their structure, few of these companies or designers have actually come out of the woodwork to show how it might be possible.  

Among others who have been actively exploring the space of large-scale 3D printing with a possible application for printing full-sized housing structures is Massimo Moretti and his team of designers and engineers at World’s Advanced Saving Project (WASP) in Italy.

The Italian company, whose mission is to build ‘zero-mile’ 3D printed homes that use materials and renewable energy sources found in a surrounding area, is currently presenting their latest 3D printer, the BigDelta, at the MADEexpo in Milan this week.  While the company has presented their vision for 3D printing homes with renewable sources in the past, this is the first event that they have been able to show off their BigDelta 3D printer - which will be 12 meters tall when it’s completed.  The printer uses a new extruder design that features a rotating nozzle to print using several different cement mixtures regardless of where a ‘house print’ is being done.   

“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,” said Moretti in the company’s press release. “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.  

Among other challenges that the team has had to work through include assuring that the clay does not shrink as it dries.  In order to do this, the clay needs to include seeds from certain weeds mixed in 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 it’s dimensional stability.  Currently, the WASP team is experimenting with certain types of plants to use in this process including Bermuda grass, which is also known as the most infesting plant types known to man.

Because the team wants to be able to print a house in any given geographical area however, their botanical research has to be able to occur on-location - which clearly adds another challenge to each individual build.

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.  



Posted in 3D Printing Technology


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Emilio wrote at 1/10/2016 5:21:11 PM:

Dear Simon, The photos are been shoot at the first edition of 3dprinthub fair, the only italian fair dedicated on the professional application of the 3D print technologies. The next edition of the fair will be held from 7 to 9 june 2016 in Fieramilanocity. Thk

Ken wrote at 3/20/2015 9:08:12 PM:

Unique application? ... It isn't done because as the clay hardens, the roots growing into it will create cracks, and destroy the structural integrity of the foundation. Sometimes visionaries are just ignorant people who talk too much.

Juan Pablo wrote at 3/20/2015 3:23:51 PM:

We still waiting for a better solution for countries like mine (chile) with regular's earthquake's.. This seams to be a good step. Nice proyect!

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