In Italy, 3D printer builds affordable homes from mud

2 min read · 6 years ago



3D printing is now being used to produce anything from personalized action figures to tactile maps that help the visually impaired navigate. Now, Italian social business WASP is developing a full size portable 3D printer which prints bio-architecture houses — combining one of humanity’s latest technological developments with one if its oldest building materials, mud.

In many parts of the world where affordable housing shortages are a growing problem, mud remains the most affordable and widely available raw material. However, building with it is an arduous and labour-intensive process. WASP intend to produce a commercially-available three armed, 20ft portable 3D printer which can be assembled on site, by two people, in two hours and print structures up to 3 metres high. For now they have been demonstrating their process with the scaled down Delta WASP 3D printer.

Both models require the earth to be sifted into a powder and mixed with water and local binding fibers — be that wool or tamarind. The concoction is fed into the printer and extruded one layer at a time according to the object’s design. It currently takes two weeks for the machine to print a mud house and there are plans to build a full-sized house in Sardinia later this year.

You can watch the demonstration at Rome’s “Maker Faire” in the video below:

WASP were inspired by the bio-architecture of the mud dauber wasp which builds its home entirely from mud. Could any other structures in nature inspire the next wave of 3D printed products?