Big Delta is a 3D printer created by the Italian engineering company WASP (World’s Advanced Saving Project) and what sets it apart from other printers is it’s sheer size. It’s 40 feet (12 m) tall and was created with the purpose of rapidly building nearly free housing using local naturally occurring materials. As such it is perfect for offering emergency relief housing, but it could easily become more than that.
The sturdy metal frame that supports the Big Delta printer measures 20 feet (6 m) in diameter. There is a rotating nozzle, which works as a mixer to keep the building materials homogeneous. According to the creators of this printer, it only requires a couple of tens of watts of power to function making it incredibly energy efficient. As for the building materials, a wide array of materials can be used to print structures using the printer. These include mud and clay, which can be reinforced with the addition of chemical additives to ensure structural soundness, while the printer also works with cement. WASP, however, promotes green and sustainable building materials being used at all times though.
The primary goal of this machine is providing emergency relief housing to people in need, such as those in areas affected by earthquakes, floods, war or other disasters. Technology that would allow us to build homes and other structures quickly and at very low costs, would come in handy not only on Earth, but also in space. Especially in space, 3D printing would solve a huge problem of how to build functional structures without the aid of any type of machinery used for this purpose on Earth.
Use in space is probably still a way off, but according to WASP the town of Iglesias, on Sardinia, has already shown interest in using the Big Delta printer to build several housing units in its historic area. It will be interesting to see if this project goes ahead.