Italy’s WASP project has developed a new, high-resolution clay 3D printer.
We first encountered WASP at the 2013 3D Printshow, where they exhibited a variety of 3D printers, but what most attracted us was the clay 3D printer. The goal was to use local materials (clay) to 3D print usable small homes. The machines on display at the time were large as 3D printers go, but far too small to print homes, even small ones. The equipment was capable of printing very large vases, though. We were told the plan was to gradually increase the size of the machines to eventually achieve house-printing capability.
Meanwhile, it seems that WASP has also gone the other direction by producing a clay 3D printer capable of reasonably high resolution. The new machine can lay down a clay filament of 0.35mm, which is certainly sufficient to print finely detailed objects. They say:
The research and development group is a world pioneer in clay print and has just developed a new extruder which consent of printing a 0.35mm diameter clay filament with a precision and control that are equal to plastic materials.
The new technology will definitely not be used to print homes, which requires far more coarse resolution to be completed in reasonable print times. Instead, the WASP team sees new applications for printed ceramics using their new capabilities. They say:
3D printed clay has a lot of employments, from construction field to the medical one. By using implantable ceramics as hydroxylapatite, bioglass and aluminium oxide it is possible to reproduce bones internal porous. WASP has already realized some projects in this direction and they keep on investing on clay 3D printing as a tool for scientific research and production in several fields.
You can clearly see the fine details achieved in the hand prints above. There are other ceramic printing experiments and even some products, but we haven’t seen any produce objects like this. The goal of many previous ceramic printing projects was to produce items like cups, but WASP’s technology could go a lot farther.