Wasp’s 20-Foot-Tall 3D Printer To Make Mud Houses in Rural Areas

Mike Senese

Mike Senese is the Executive Editor of Make: magazine. He is also a TV host, starring in various engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with remote-control aircraft, doing amateur woodworking, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza.

Follow @msenese

120 Articles

By Mike Senese

Mike Senese is the Executive Editor of Make: magazine. He is also a TV host, starring in various engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with remote-control aircraft, doing amateur woodworking, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza.

Follow @msenese

120 Articles

Article Featured Image

A new Italian company is demonstrating a super-tall, portable machine that will bring 3D-printed dwellings to impoverished regions.

The project comes from the 3D printer company WASP, which demonstrated the technology at Maker Faire Rome. Their building-making printer, a gargantuan 20′ tall, three-armed delta machine, can be assembled on site in two hours, according to WASP CEO Massimo Moretti, then filled with native mud and fiber, and used to cheaply construct dwellings. He explains that this gives the ability to work more closely with natural forms rather than the square-shaped block homes that common brick dwellings are made from. He also passionately explains how this will help people express the power of their mind, rather than just of constructing something by hand.

During the event, the printer was laying down layers of treated mud, although time and material constraints kept a full unit from being completed. Regardless, the demonstration of the custom extruders to work with a variety of materials shows the promise of the endeavor.

wasp house printer

3D printed dwellings have been demonstrated for a couple years now, with companies like D-Shape showing renderings and mock-ups of giant truss-built cartesian printers creating oversized, organic-looking structures. But the ability to move and assemble the WASP machine quickly (it is largely held together with ratcheting straps), and to utilize native materials, reveals the advantages for quickly-deployable purposes.

The company has financed their project using revenue from the sales of their consumer printers — high quality machines that have helped boost them to become the second-largest 3D printer company in their native country. Their original machine, the WASP Evo, is an X-Y-Z 3D printer that has a swappable mill (for carving) and syringe (for adhesives or food) options. Their subsequent machines are all delta-style printers, ranging from desktop to closet-sized. And while they print plastics, as 3D printers do, the WASP team has also created a ceramic option to let designers generate creations that can be glazed and fired.

Moretti, with an Italian designer’s enthusiasm, sees these ceramic creations as the true value of 3D printing.

While no plans are officially in place, Moretti states that the first WASP house may occur next year in Sardinia, due to the availability of wool, used as a fibrous binder in the printer’s mud, for the project.