We had the opportunity to catch up with the team at WASP, an Italian company at the forefront of 3D printing innovation. Known for their expertise in large-scale 3D printers, WASP has made significant contributions to the field of additive construction.
This interview covers the fundamental aspects of WASP's journey, such as the company's origins and its team, to the practical applications of their technology across industries. We explore the functionalities of the online configurators, including their capabilities for users to export G-code compatible with DeltaWASP printers. The decision to use Grasshopper and ShapeDiver, shedding light on how these tools enhance the user experience and open up new design possibilities. Furthermore, we delve into the team's insights on the future of 3D printing and the challenges faced during the development of large-scale printers. This interview will help you understand WASP's expertise and their groundbreaking contributions to the 3D printing landscape.
1. Can you tell us about the origins of WASP and how the company came to specialize in the development of 3D printers?
WASP- World’s Advanced Saving Project is a company born in 2012 in Massa Lombarda (Ravenna- Italy) that designs, produces, and sells 3D printers made in Italy all over the world.
The wide range of WASP 3D printers has been developed to answer human needs: food, housing, health, energy, work, art, and culture. Inspired by the Potter Wasp, which builds its own nest with material recovered from the surrounding environment, WASP was born with the aim of developing large-scale 3D printers to build houses with natural materials available on the territory. The main company's target is to provide effective benefits to humans through technological innovation and research.
2. How many people are currently part of the 3D Wasp team, and what are their primary areas of expertise?
Currently, the WASP team consists of 40 to 50 people who primarily focus on research and development, sales, and warehousing.
3. Which industries have shown the most interest in utilizing WASP's 3D printers, and what specific applications have they found in those industries?
Having various technologies in our catalog, it’s important to make a distinction before diving into it. WASP operates in 3 sectors: Clay, Industrial, and Architectural 3D printing. Each sector has its own line of 3D printers that cater to different industries and customers.
Our Clay line is often used in both artistic and research/academic fields. Being an open system, allowing for the experimentation of different materials, it meets the needs of both designers and researchers, allowing them space between various applications, from 3D printed furniture and design vases to the development of new bio-based materials for 3D printing.
Our Industrial line caters to different industries, from the medical field, developing customized braces and prosthetics, to the automotive one. Our largest 3D printer and top-of-the-line WASP 3MT HDP prints directly from pellets with huge advantages in terms of speed and cost-effectiveness. It is often used to create customized artistic installations in a short time, but also furniture and design 3D printing, even with textiles.
Our Architectural 3D printer, Crane WASP, is most famous for being able to print construction materials different from concrete, such as raw earth. Its versatility makes it a viable solution in many different situations, from printing two pop-up stores on the beach of Dubai to creating a customized art installation for Triennalo Milano by bringing the machine inside the museum’s corridors and printing on the spot. Starting this year, we have started selling the machine worldwide, and we’re already up to a great start!
4. Could you elaborate on the online configurators that WASP has created with Grasshopper and ShapeDiver? What features and capabilities do these configurators offer to users?
WASP has created a 3D parametric modeling application that enables users to design and print objects using our product line's clay printers. Through WASP's digital factory, users are empowered to mass-produce their own designs. The application offers the flexibility of including multiple prints within a single g-code, optimizing the printing workflow and enhancing productivity.
5. What advantages do the online configurators bring to users compared to traditional methods of configuring and designing structures for 3D printing?
This tool aims to make 3D printing accessible to everyone, even those without technical expertise in 3D modeling. We want to give everyone the chance to use our technology and enjoy 3D printing.
6. What are some learnings from creating this online configurator's user interface and user experience?
While developing this application, we realized the importance of distinguishing processes. Our goal was to establish a linear workflow that guides users seamlessly through various design stages, ensuring a smooth and intuitive experience.
7. What does the future hold for 3D printing in various industries, and how do you see WASP contributing to that future?
3D printing is set to shift from being primarily used for creating prototypes to becoming a tool for large-scale custom manufacturing. This will lead to the replacement of industrial plants in favor of real-time production systems, resulting in reduced issues related to warehouse inventories, transportation, and storage. The advantage of 3D printing lies in its ability to respond to customer needs faster and in a personalized manner, surpassing the current system's capabilities.
WASP is actively working to generate this shift; our newly launched line for customized production through digital fabrication seems to respond to an oxymoron: mass production of unique parts.
8. Can you share any notable success stories or projects where WASP's printers were used to create innovative structures or solutions?
The term "success" holds different meanings depending on the context. There can be technological successes, market successes, and image successes. For instance, the creation of the first 3D printed store on the beaches of Dubai for a renowned brand like Dior can be regarded as a notable success.
9. Agreed! How does WASP ensure the quality and reliability of their 3D printers, particularly in large-scale construction projects?
Printers are the result of a continuous process of evolution involving rigorous testing, constant improvements, and certification. The act of printing introduces additional variables into the equation. It's crucial to consider not only the printing machine itself but also the materials being used and the design of the object intended for printing.
Achieving a good result relies on a series of interconnected choices, from choosing the right material to a well-suited design and a machine that is able to execute it. To ensure the integrity of large-scale constructions, we established a well-defined process. Finished components, including walls or sections of walls, are produced according to a series of procedures. These components are subsequently subjected to stress tests, where they are intentionally put under pressure to evaluate whether they meet the expected standards.
10. Are there any unique features or technologies incorporated into WASP's printers that differentiate them from other 3D printing solutions in the market?
WASP has always pushed itself to explore new fields of application. Each application meets specific needs, and for each of these requests, WASP has developed an answer.
We have developed the "Firecap" system for plastic polymers, which applies heat to the printed material to enhance adhesion. Additionally, we have implemented vacuum-based systems to ensure proper adhesion of the printed object to the printing surface. These systems offer versatility by enabling the inclusion of fibers in the materials, increasing stiffness, or introducing colored lines.
As for the ceramics field, we were the first to create continuous feeding systems that enable industrial-scale printing of diverse objects. Our company holds patents for unique solutions like the CFS, which supplies the printer with ceramic materials and eliminates any remaining air from the material itself. These innovations contribute to enhanced efficiency and quality in ceramic printing processes.
11. What kind of support and training options does WASP provide to its customers to help them optimize the use of their printers and achieve the desired results?
Our collaborative work starts by identifying the right material and printer for the desired applications. Our team of technicians provides online and live training, supplemented by helpful online tutorials to ensure proper customer training.
12. Are there any specific sustainability aspects that WASP focuses on in their 3D printing processes or materials?
Sustainability has always been the focus of our research. Back in 2018, we created Gaia: the first 3D printed building that was created using natural materials from the surrounding area. More specifically, raw soil taken directly from the ground of the construction site. Our focus on sustainability has also driven our exploration of printing with recycled materials, utilizing our large-scale industrial printers.
For architectural 3D printing, the research is continuous: recycled materials, powders from marble processing, tuff, waste from the agri-food chain such as straw or rice husk and hemp. These are just a few of the materials that are being tested with our machines on a daily basis. Our goal is to make negative-impact objects thanks to our technology.
13. Lastly, what upcoming developments, innovations, or projects can we expect from WASP in the near future?
In addition to creating and selling 3D printers, WASP is expanding its offerings to include certified 3D printed house models, a project that started as a vision and is now turning into reality. As for our line of 3D printers, we will continue focusing on Digital Factories, creating a new paradigm in the world of additive manufacturing.
- This has been great. Thank you for taking some time to share your story with us.
Thank you as well and the ShapeDiver for providing your support and feedback during this process.
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