Technology

‘Crane’ style 3D printer can build homes from soil and food waste

5 September 2018 | By Denise Chevin

Italian printing specialist WASP has taken another step forward in 3D printing by developing the technology to form a structure made out of clay and food waste, using a new “crane-style” printer.

In the new project, known as GAIA, insulation and ventilation have been embedded into the complex architectural cladding. The new structure has been built at WAPS’s HQ, at Massa Lombarda, Ravenna, Italy, and will be completed in early October.

It will be the first structure printed using the new printer, which has been in development by the company for two years.

WASP says: “In collaboration with Rice House, we have added husks and rice straw to the inner spaces of the 3D printed built wall. The masonry is completely printed in 3D. The design of the wall, with grooves and insulation, gives Gaia very high energy performance.”

WASP’s Infinity 3D printer is a modular collaborative 3D printing system. It reinterprets the classic building cranes from a digital manufacturing point of view. It is composed of a main printer unit that can be assembled in different configurations depending on the printing area and therefore on the dimensions of the architectural structure to be calculated in 3D.

The print area of the single module is 6.60m in diameter for a height of 3m.

This equipment is an evolution of the Big Delta 12M and allows the mechanical dimensions of the printer to be reduced while maintaining a large print area.

Created with the same modular mechanical components used to make up the Big Delta 12M aluminium structure, it is a fast and efficient tool to be dismantled and reassembled for easy transport, claims the company.

The single module can work self-sufficiently by printing fluids of different kinds: cement, bio cement, natural dough. “Once you have a single module, you can expand it by adding traverses and printer arms, thus generating an infinite digital manufacturing system,” says WASP.

It is not necessary to “cover” the entire area involved in the construction with the printing area of the WASP cranes because they can be reconfigured depending on the growth and shape of the building. More WASP cranes, when working together, have a potentially huge printing area and can be set by the on-site operators following the evolution of the architectural project.

WASP technology has been used recently to produce a pioneering lightweight architectural pavilion that fuses advancements in 3D printing with bio-inspired computational design.

In this project in Milan, the fabrication process of the building components was made possible by five printers supplied by 3D printer manufacturer WASP. The company’s Spitfire extruder was also introduced for the first time to shape stiff components.

The prototype is the result of the doctoral research of Roberto Naboni, architect and assistant professor at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), who designed and developed the pavilion at Politecnico di Milano, together with a team of specialists in experimental design and construction.

The project looks into 3D printing for answers to the emerging problem of scarcity in material resources. The design is based on a computational process that finds inspiration in nature, specifically in the materialisation logics of the trabeculae, the internal cells that form the bone microstructure.