Aug 10, 2016 | By Tess

Italian 3D printing company WASP has made a big impact with its massive 12 meter tall BigDelta 3D printer. The printer, which is installed in the municipality of Massa Lomarda, has been working for the past couple months to construct the Shamballa Technological Park, a 3D printed experimental eco-village. We recently caught up with WASP about their project and have some new updates about what is happening with the Italian 3D printed eco town.

According to the company, the WASP team at Shamballa and the BigDelta3D printer have completed the first leg of work and are currently taking a one week break before commencing the construction again. In line with the massive 3D printer’s eco-friendly task, the buildings being printed are being made from  a combination of soil and straw, and can be made with very little energy consumption and very low costs.

To give a precise idea as to how little energy and money are necessary for 3D printing the straw and soil housing structures, WASP has even laid out some numbers. To print 270 centimeters of wall in a 5 meter diameter, the 3D printer uses roughly 40 tons of material, 2 cubic meters of water, and 200 Kwh. Each layer put down by the massive 3D printer takes about 20 minutes to extrude and weighs about 300 kilos (660 lbs).

In terms of cost, you’ll be surprised to hear that printing such a wall costs only about 48 euros. Yes, that’s right. Not even 50 euros, even with materials and energy included. WASP breaks down the costs saying that the energy consumed to build the wall costs €32, while the water costs €3, the straw costs €10, and the motor hoe gasoline costs €3. Additionally, even more could be saved by using manual labour to knead the building material instead of automated machinery.

Massimo Moretti, the founder of WASP and the person behind the Shamballa Technological Park, said: “We have already proved that two men and one machine can 3D print a comfortable and healthy shelter with extremely little money. We are very satisfied of the results, even if we know there is still a lot to do.”

Of course, in building an eco town, the company has faced some difficulties, including mastering how to get their massive 3D printer to extrude a building mixture, solving the issue of material loading, supervising the printing process, and how to protect the 3D printed wall from elements like rain and wind. Fortunately, the building materials they are working with, clay and straw, can be mixed and printed easily without any additives. Moretti explains, “The period of transformation from liquid to solid allows to print 60 centimeters per day, or even more in the summer (maybe one meter per day).” This means that not only can the shelter be made for very little money and with low energy consumption, but it can also be made quickly.

After the completion of the first phase, WASP found that its 3D printed shelters were in fact quite strong and resilient, even without additional support for the walls. According to the company, to avoid using plaster placer mining they incorporated 10% lime to help make the walls as strong and enduring as possible.

Once the work on the shelter is resumed next week, the project team will continue building the wall until it is 4 meters tall. Once that is done they will proceed to build the roof and a door for the shelter. As the work forges on, the company will also continue its research to consistently improve on building materials, and other aspects of the work. The ultimate goal according to Moretti is to have the BigDelta 3D printing running as autonomously as possible so that a shelter will be able to be built in only a few days time. Tune in for regular updates on the Shamballa Technological Park.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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