3D Printing

Wasp's 3D printers produce low-cost houses made from mud

Wasp's 3D printers produce low...
Wasp hopes to bring affordable housing to poverty stricken areas with its mud-extruding 3D printer
Wasp hopes to bring affordable housing to poverty stricken areas with its mud-extruding 3D printer
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While not a full scale model on show at Maker Faire, at 4 m (13 ft) it was able to produce smaller versions of its mud brick dwellings and serve as a proof-of-concept
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While not a full scale model on show at Maker Faire, at 4 m (13 ft) it was able to produce smaller versions of its mud brick dwellings and serve as a proof-of-concept
Wasp demonstrated its printer earlier this month at Rome's Maker Faire
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Wasp demonstrated its printer earlier this month at Rome's Maker Faire
Wasp's mud-extruding dream builder stands around 20 ft tall (6 m) and is capable of printing structures 10 ft (3 m) in height
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Wasp's mud-extruding dream builder stands around 20 ft tall (6 m) and is capable of printing structures 10 ft (3 m) in height
Wasp demonstrated its printer earlier this month at Rome's Maker Faire
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Wasp demonstrated its printer earlier this month at Rome's Maker Faire
Wasp's mud-extruding dream builder stands around 20 ft tall (6 m) and is capable of printing structures 10 ft (3 m) in height
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Wasp's mud-extruding dream builder stands around 20 ft tall (6 m) and is capable of printing structures 10 ft (3 m) in height
Wasp hopes to bring affordable housing to poverty stricken areas with its mud-extruding 3D printer
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Wasp hopes to bring affordable housing to poverty stricken areas with its mud-extruding 3D printer
Wasp's mud-extruding dream builder stands around 20 ft tall (6 m) and is capable of printing structures 10 ft (3 m) in height
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Wasp's mud-extruding dream builder stands around 20 ft tall (6 m) and is capable of printing structures 10 ft (3 m) in height

A need to address a lack of housing for the globe's growing population has turned up some eye-catching efforts, blending creative architecture with new, sustainable technologies. And it is increasingly looking like 3D printing could have a role to play. Italian firm Wasp is the latest to explore the potential of additive manufacturing in this area, developing a super-sized 3D printer capable of producing low-cost housing made from mud.

Mud brick homes aren't new, and have a certain appeal for the environmentally conscious due to their low carbon footprint and sustainable nature. Wasp is looking to bring these benefits to a bigger stage by providing a means to quickly create shelter in developing regions where traditional forms of construction might not be possible.

The company's mud-extruding dream builder stands around 20 ft tall (6 m) and is capable of printing structures 10 ft (3 m) in height. This puts it at around the same size as the printer used by a Chinese company earlier this year to construct 10 houses in less than 24 hours.

The idea behind Wasp's approach is the housing can be built on location, using materials found on site at zero cost. The printer can reportedly be built by two people in as little as two hours and can extrude materials ranging from mud to clay and other natural fibers. The company demonstrated the printer earlier this month at Rome's Maker Faire. While not a full scale model, at 4 m (13 ft) it was able to produce smaller versions of its mud brick dwellings and serve as a proof-of-concept.

"We will print a mixture made of clay and sand," CEO Massimo Moretti said leading up to the event. "It takes weeks to print a real house, so we will print a smaller building because we only have two days. But the print, the mixture and materials have been already tested and they’re working.”

The design for these structures is inspired by the mud dauber wasp, which build their nests using mud. As it turns out, the company's name doubles as an acronym for "World's Advanced Saving Project."

While it has exhibited the potential of its approach, Wasp is yet to detail exactly when it plans to begin deploying its 3D printers.

Source: Wasp

14 comments
Slowburn
Something tells me those houses won't stand up to even mild earthquakes.
Gadgeteer
Are poverty-stricken areas going to have the electricity needed to run this machine? And a few weeks per house seems awfully slow. Seems to me you can build a house with adobe bricks or rammed earth construction in less time and with readily available labor. I would also guess this 3D printed material is lower density than the older alternatives, so it wouldn't be as resistant to weathering.
Paul Robertson
Exterior surface improvements would extend weathering. A truck mounted operation would include its own generator or solar panels and batteries. Speed will improve as the tech matures. The demo was proof of concept not prototype.
Nik
I'm sure that people could build mud shelters by hand a lot quicker than two days. The mud may be good for walls, what will the roof be made of? Mud is not known for being particularly resistant to rain. Also, as has been said, poverty stricken areas are less likely to have electricity to operate the machine, so a generator and fuel would be required. If a generator and fuel was available, the area probably wouldn't be 'poverty stricken. This seems to be a 'rich kids' solution, looking for a problem.
Mel Tisdale
I imagine the biggest difficulty will be getting the consistency of the building material right so that it has just the right amount of water content. Too dry and it will crumble, too wet and it will sag. Either way will almost certainly lead to a poorly built house, with obvious results.
Matt Fletcher
Printed mud construction would be similar to layered mud, which isn't as strong as rammed earth construction or reinforced mud housing. Also if a roof and outer coating have to be applied after 2 weeks of printing then the unit's not really made from a 3D printer rather a portion of it is made from a 3D printer. Still needs windows and a door at minimum and most people want electricity, water and floors . This would work well for making defense walls, storage units or garages but at the moment this is a bit slow, insubstantial and untested for housing.
Cyndysub
Somebody should combine this process with "Hempcrete" and maybe hit a homerun. They could use the "Mud" for the structural portion of the house and then use "Hempcrete" to fill in the walls.
Don Duncan
"...in developing regions where traditional forms of construction might not be possible..." This mud printer needs power just as "traditional construction". The mud mixture must be prepared by sifting and combining sand, clay, cement, and water. This makes up much of the labor and cost of earthen construction. The expertise to build with earth is simple and easy to teach, but not necessary in most developing regions because it has been used for centuries. Earthen structures can be stable and last centuries. Earth is by far the most cost effective material in developing regions but no high tech is needed to utilize it.
Stephen N Russell
Mass produce, must for India & Africa & Asia alone
Gregg Eshelman
Add chopped straw for reinforcement, especially if some can be made to partially stick out so subsequent layers will bond. 3D printing like this would essentially be a high tech version of a cob wall. Cob construction is basically lumps of earth and clay with fiber, often straw or dried grass plus herbivore manure, piled up by firmly smacking cobs (lumps) of the material together. In the areas where such buildings would be constructed, there are likely local experts in making and applying various types of earthen plaster.