Low-cost 3D-printed shelter being built from clay and straw

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The WASP team plans to extend the shelter to a total of 4 m (13 ft) high, before adding a roof and door(Credit: WASP Project)

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Last year we reported on Big Delta, a massive 3D printer that showed promise as a means of creating cheap housing by using low-cost materials like mud and clay as a building material. The firm behind it, Italy's WASP (World's Advanced Saving Project), appears to be making good on that promise, and has almost completed building a new shelter that's cost just €48 (about US$55) so far.

Right off the bat it's important to note that even when the shelter is successfully completed, it will be very basic indeed, essentially comprising the walls, door, and roof. Still, to people around the world in dire straits, such as refugees or victims of natural disaster, a basic roof over their heads could mean the difference between life and death.

So far, WASP has 3D-printed a 270 cm (106 in) high and 5m (16 ft) diameter structure predominantly made from clay and straw, with some lime used too. The construction process mirrors that of the Dubai office building, involving a huge printer extruding layers of building material, which are slowly built-up into a structure.

The shelter comprises a total of 135 layers so far, with each one taking 20 minutes to complete. Each layer weighs a hefty 300 kg (660 lb) and WASP says that two people and one 3D-printer setup could build an entire shelter unaided.

WASP went through 2 cubic meters (70 cubic ft) of water and used 200 kWh of electricity. Adding these, plus the cost of gasoline, straw, etc, it came up with the €48 construction cost, though that doesn't include any payment for workers involved.

Next, WASP will take a week's break from the project, then extend the shelter to a total height of 4 m (13 ft), before adding a roof and door. It's still early days in the project, and the team intends to experiment with different materials and techniques once the first shelter is built.

Source: WASP

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