The world’s largest delta 3D printer - standing at 12 meters tall - is no longer just a research project but it is now the reality of dream.
|Scooped by Jamee Lyn Devlin|
Advances in 3D printing over the last few years, from titanium medical implantsto food production, have been undeniably both impressive and boundless. Rapidly produced, cost-effective homes, including some designed to withstand harsh climates and earthquakes and others built from eco-friendly materials, are still largely in the experimental phase, however no one can deny that 3D printed housing is well on its way to changing the face of construction as we know it.
But homes made of mud? While the idea of clay-mud homes might bring to mind something resembling the chunky, grass and bug-filled mudpies we made as kids, the Italian 3D printer manufacturer WASP, an acronym for World's Advanced Saving Project, who envisioned these cost-effective homes for low-income populaces are by no means unimaginative in their concept designs for living spaces.
While several adaptations of 3D printed homes using cement and other more eco-conscious materials have proven concepts, producing homes in record timing and often far below the cost of current housing construction, the cost of the materials and machinery used to build them would still put a strain on geographical locations struggling with overpopulation and socio-economic pressure. WASP plans to construct 3D printed homes in third world countries using the soil available as print material, and they have developed the world’s largest 3D printer, aptly named Big Delta, to do the job.
Big Delta is approximately 12 meters high and consumes only 1.5 kilowatts, enabling it to operate with a single solar panel for regions with no electrical grid. According to a United Nations estimate, approximately 4 billion people on the planet will live with under $3000 per year by 2030. With most of them unable to use more than 10% of that income on housing, that leaves a great deal of the human population homeless. WASP aims to create sustainable, long-term solutions to solve that problem using whatever is naturally available from region to region. In short, they want to solve the global housing crisis.
To meet demand, the UN estimates that, over the next 15 years there will be an average daily requirement of 100,000 new housing units. Furthermore, along with this impelling necessity, the growing population will need to fulfill its alimentary needs even in areas of the planet that are affected by extreme climates or that are subjected to socio-economic stresses.
What about durability? Can a modern day house comprised of a mixture of local dirt and water truly stand up to elements of nature?
“In the province of Alessandria, in Northern Italy, there are entire buildings that were made of clay over the past centuries and are still habitable. Ait Ben Haddou, a city that is a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been entirely built using raw dirt in the Marroccan inland. When we went to visit it, the guide told us about the minimal maintenance requirements of clay buildings," says a representative of WASP. Furthermore, the company maintains that a 3D printed clay home could easily have all the comforts of a common cement house.
Where do they obtain the funding for such an operation? Directly from sales on their smaller 3D printers. Big Delta, which can print not only clay, but also cement, sawdust, lime-based mixtures and polystyrene, will also be available for purchase in order to fund further housing projects.
While WASP has yet to complete a full-scale 3D clay home, they are well on their way and hope to have solid prototypes soon. For a company that could make a very decent living simply marketing the well-reputed 3D printers they already manufacture, their example of a corporation making a philanthropic contribution to resolving a large-scale global calamity is inspiring to find. One can only hope to see more of it.