In the realm of organic builders, the mud dauber is a particular family of tiny wasps that are capable of constructing their own ‘house’ with mud. Inspired by this natural scope, Massimo Moretti formed his own organization World’s Advanced Saving Project (or WASP) – and its designers have developed the means to 3D print entire dwellings from mud! In essence, they make use of one of the most abundant (and oldest) building materials on earth’s surface, which can potentially lead to affordable housing solutions with the aid of less labor intensive processes.
The linchpin in this 3D printing ambit is obviously the special 3D printer that can make use of mud (instead of conventional plastic). For this, the earth material is first fine-filtered into a powder form, and then mixed with water. The resultant composition is then fed into the printer – which then casts the mixture in a layer by layer manner to create a three-dimensional structure. The team behind the conscientious endeavor, recently demonstrated this technique (at Rome’s Maker Faire), by using a 4m long printer. And the result turned out to be quite impressive – with the structure’s built-credentials being boosted by the natural strength of mud.
Coming to the commercial side of affairs, WASP wants to build bigger yet portable three-armed printers that are over 20-ft tall, and can be transported to the site on trucks. They can then be assembled in under 2 hours, with the setup finally churning out 3D printed structures that are over 10-ft tall. These on-site constructed components will have the ‘holy-trinity’ composition of mud, clay and fiber (as the binder) – materials that are found in most parts of the world. In other words, vernacular and rural architecture will be enriched by the technological scope, given the procedure’s dependence on only locally available resources.
Interestingly, the WASP team has also dabbled with ceramic and its subsequent 3D printing; while they additionally have plans to build a whole residence in Sardinia with the use of locally-available wool as the crucial binder. And, this is what Moretti had to say about the practicality of clay –
We have a big goal and we work every day on little things to achieve it. We first created [marketable] extruders for clay, porcelain and ceramic, to give the chance of producing objects which have functionality and commerce value. Thanks to clay printing, it is possible a real self-made production that is practical and commerciable.
Image Credits: WASP