Have you heard about WASP yet? WASP – short for the World’s Advanced Saving Project was created in 2012 in Italy and focusses on developing 3D printing within an open-source context. WASP manufactures solid professional printers with the aim to encourage sustainable development and in-house production.
In short, WASP rightly attracts plenty of altruistic and eco-friendly epithets.
Now WASP has just announced that it has taken yet another step towards realising its house dream, after being inspired in the development of a new 3D printer by nature, and especially the potter wasp.
They state: “compared with the [3D printer] we presented at Maker Faire in Rome on 2014, the distinctive and decisive element that characterizes the evolution of the one we have now is the new extruder. Movements control is crucial in 3D print, but it was very difficult with the old peristaltic pump-extruder. That’s why we completely redesigned, adopting a cochlea concept. Now we have an extruder which can even manage retraction, so it can stop working and pull extruded material back.”
The benefits, they indicate, are the precise flow control and the ability to stop and resume work with micrometric precision. Furthermore, the new extruder can be assembled and disassembled very quickly, it cleans by itself, it needs a very low energy amount and it has a constant control at all the speed levels. Moreover, thanks to rotating nozzle, the material isn’t only extruded but also mixed on the way out, improving cohesiveness.
The project members indicate that the biggest obstacle for the twelve meters tall printer was the extruder. Issues included looking at the extrusion process itself, but also how to refill materials and keep the system operative with a minimum of effort. This was when they were inspired by the humble potter wasp, which handles materials very efficiently. So instead of pushing the clay into the tubes, the newest 3D printer simply lets it fall in a controlled fashion.
So are the WASP team there yet? Well, not quite, they admit. They are now looking for example at improved mixing techniques and keeping the nozzles clean. However, they believe their work will help develop large-scale 3D printers which will run with a minimum of energy and therefore be ideal for the construction industry. So watch this space…. WASP’s first house could be here before we know it…..