3-D printers aren't turning out to be the awesome personal device in people's homes that many envisioned when the technology was first introduced. Not yet, anyway.
What they are doing is inspiring creators everywhere to use 3-D printing to both innovate and save lives. Whether it's a custom rib cage printed to save a cancer patient or physical pictures printed to help the blind "see," ideas for how to leverage the power of 3-D printing are cropping up left and right.
One of the latest is a concept on a massive scale. WASP (World Advanced Saving Project) is an Italian company that's built a 40-foot-tall structure designed to print homes out of clay.
Yes, entire houses.
Although still in its infancy, the BigDelta printer, as it's named, is capable of building entire structures out of clay, water, dirt and plant fibers — organic resources that are incredibly plentiful and free. The full-size printer is based off a small prototype WASP built first (pictured above), and it can be easily collapsed and transported between construction sites. Because of the natural resources it uses, the need to transport building materials is virtually nonexistent.
The company draws its name in part from real wasps, as the structures they build in nature were inspiration for how the printed houses look.
As the UN estimates that by 2030 roughly 3 billion people (40 percent of the world's population) will require some form of affordable housing due to poverty and/or low income, 3-D printing is being turned to as a possible savior.