21st Century Cave 3D Printed with WASP 3D Printer
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on May 18, 2016 |
Italian 3D printing firm WASP is no ordinary company, claiming as its mission to save the world with digital fabrication technology and a new maker economy. To do its part in the World Advanced Saving Project (WASP), the firm has built its Big Delta 3D printer, a large-scale system capable of printing structures made from concrete and meant to produce homes for people in developing nations. It has yet to fulfill this latter goal, but a bit of news announced today indicates that WASP is making moves in the right direction. Together with Siam Cement Group (SCG) and architect Pitupong Chaowakul, they have 3D printed a house in Asia.

The WASP 3D printer custom built for SCG and Pitupong Chaowakul. (Image courtesy of WASP.)
The WASP 3D printer custom built for SCG and Pitupong Chaowakul. (Image courtesy of WASP.)

SCG has previously worked in 3D-printed construction, having co-engineered cement composite for Emerging Objects’ laser-sintered “Bloom” pavilion in 2015. Upon discovering WASP's enormous 3D printer, the Thai firm and Chaowakul, founder of Supermachine Studio, reached out to WASP to construct a 4-meter-tall printer capable of printing thick fluid materials, like SCG's concrete, at a volume of 2 m x 2 m x 2 m. Housed at the SCG facility, the custom DELTA WASP printer was then used to 3D print Chaowakul's blueprint, a pavilion that took a painstaking three months to design. In addition to the large concrete 3D printer, fused deposition modeling and powder bed 3D printing were also used, resulting in an entirely 3D-printed structure. The parts were then snapped together onsite.

This structure was 3D printed at SCG’s facility and assembled onsite. (Image courtesy of WASP.)
This structure was 3D printed at SCG’s facility and assembled onsite. (Image courtesy of WASP.)

Chaowakul’s 3D-printed structure, dubbed the “Y-Box Pavilion, 21st-century Cave,” is now on display at the “Architect16” exhibit in Bangkok. As the name implies, the shelter is meant to be a 21st century cave, reinvisioning the standard box-like homes associated with the previous era and taking inspiration from ancient caves. The structure is made from six spiraling columns designed to reflect stalagmites and stalactites. The intricate joints that connect the columns further give off spectacular shadows when the geodesic lamp, made from 180 triangular components, is illuminated.

The cave features six 3D-printed concrete columns and a 3D printed lamp. (Image courtesy of WASP.)
The cave features six 3D-printed concrete columns and a 3D printed lamp. (Image courtesy of WASP.)

In a story for the Bankok Post, Chaowakul argued that the technology could replace traditional construction techniques, allowing for a blend of craftsmanship and industrial technology that could create buildings as wondrous as the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, the architect also believes that the construction costs could be too high for immediate widespread implementation. The pavilion cost only 1 million Thai baht (USD$28,000), but adding all of the necessary components to convert the cave into a likeable home would cost even more.


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