WASP’s technology in service of the Bartlett School of Architecture

Since 2012, WASP has consistently embraced the world of university research, deploying its technology on university campuses across Europe and worldwide. For over 2 years, the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL (University College London) has hosted a Delta WASP 40100 Clay in its labs, utilised by students of the Design for Manufacture faculty for research and the execution of their thesis projects.

Due to their high accessibility and open system, WASP’s 3D printers are the perfect choice for testing new materials and AM technologies. Under the guidance of a professor expert in the field, college students have the opportunity to interact directly with the machine and use it in experimental ways to contribute to the research and advancement of the Additive Manufacturing field.

In 2024, the students of the ‘Additive Manufacturing Group,’ under the guidance of their tutor, Arthur Prior, completed their Master’s degrees and published their thesis projects. The group was made up of two teams, each presenting their own research:

  • Tom Younger, Tianyang Li, Qinyuan Zheng – Multi-nozzle Additive Manufacturing
  • Rameshwari Jonnalagedda – TerraMound

Silicone 3D printing with a multi-nozzle extrusion system – By Tom Younger, Tianyang Li, Qinyuan Zheng – Tutor: Arthur Prior

The team, consisting of Tom Younger, Tianyang Li, and Qinyuan Zheng, focused their research on developing a multi-nozzle 3D printing extrusion system. Their goal was to fabricate silicone auxetic tiles for a pneumatic shading system, crafting a lightweight and ‘breathing’ window frame structure. This structure could regulate the amount of light entering a building’s façade by expanding and contracting the silicone membranes.

The team has executed the project on a global scale, overseeing the design, manufacturing, and testing of both the extruder and compatible materials. Their final choice of silicone was driven by its elasticity and durability, breaking away from traditional architectural structures and creating innovative designs with their ability to produce large deformation effects.

The idea behind the project was to find a way to balance shading and light transmission in buildings by adjusting the light directly through their façade design, rather than relying on energy-intensive mechanical equipment.

After being printed through the multi-nozzle extrusion system, the silicone auxetic tiles were sandwiched between two silicone membranes. These were then attached to an acrylic backing in an aluminum clamping profile, forming a chamber of air. By pumping air into the chamber and inflating the membrane, the auxetic patterns would expand, increasing the negative spaces and enabling more light to enter the façade. A photosensor was then added to control the inflation of the cushions, adjusting them based on light levels. In a way, the façade mimicked human breathing, expanding and contracting with inhaling and exhaling actions.

This study represents just one of the countless applications of this system, which has the potential to establish a new paradigm for Additive Manufacturing. In continuation of their research, the team also developed a print head with individual nozzle control, aimed at printing complex structures with high material throughput and significantly reducing printing time.

TerraMound – 3D printed cooling systems in ceramic – By Rameshwari Jonnalagedda – Tutor: Arthur Prior

The project TerraMound by Rameshwari Jonnalagedda aims to create an efficient cooling system inspired by natural formations, like termite mounds, through ceramic 3D printing and the integration of minimal surface geometries.

Minimal surface geometries offer a high surface area, ideal for maximising cooling and airflow – key elements for an efficient cooling system. The project prototype features a desktop fan with a ceramic porous structure where air is drawn upward through a 3D-printed ceramic body by a base fan. While water poured into a planter on top trickles down the ceramic body, facilitating evaporative cooling, and creating a concept for enhancing cooling efficiency.

While TerraMound utilises an external fan in its initial prototype, the true potential lies in scaling the concept beyond and diversifying its applications. The project goes beyond mere cooling. Minimal surfaces can be incorporated into walls to create adaptive interfaces, adapting to manage heat, air, and light.

The versatility of minimal surfaces, combined with the freedom of 3D printing, opens doors to a range of applications, like façade systems, air filtration systems and even bio-receptive structures. Their modularity allows for customisation, creating buildings with efficient ventilation, thermal control, and even potential for energy capture.

TerraMound is not just about creating energy-efficient cooling systems. It’s about reimagining a future where buildings are no longer passive structures, but dynamic entities that breathe, adapt, and exist in harmony with nature.

Ceram-Screens – A climate responsive 3D printed parametric façade – By Monisha Sridhara – Tutor: Nikoletta Karastathi, Arthur Prior

The project Ceram-Screens by Monisha Sridhara draws inspiration from traditional stone-carved Jaali screens, commonly found in Indian architecture. These ornamental structures serve a dual function, providing light and heat control by reducing solar glare and enhancing ventilation. Originally crafted from natural materials like stone and wood, their intricate design is meant to produce cooler air by utilising the principle of contraction—allowing hot air to contract as it passes through their small openings, becoming cooler.

Extensive standardisation and industrialisation have led to the loss of the artisan skill originally required for this technique, that has since loss its original function flexibility and character.

The aim of the project is to restore this traditional technique through the utilisation of ceramic 3D printing, a production system that allows for full customisation and replicability, overcoming the limitations established by standardised manufacturing methods. The study explores the potential of additive manufacturing to enhance current construction techniques and create improved spaces and façades in terms of interior lighting, ventilation, and privacy.

After a process of experimentation, the chosen shape for the module was a frustum conical form with an opening at the bottom, capable of redirecting both wind flow and light while maintaining visual privacy. A 3D model was developed for specific data testing, such as micro-climatic conditions, façade orientation, solar radiation, and wind velocity analysis.

The modules were printed in clay using the Delta WASP 40100 Clay and later glazed to increase the structure’s resistance. The pieces were then assembled using cement mortars and showcased at the Bartlett Fifteen Show.