3D Printing 'living' Bio-based materials with Urban Reef

3D Printing "living" Bio-based materials with Urban Reef

Urban Reef is using 3D Printing to create Bio-Inclusive Cities

Urban Reef is a startup that researches, develops and designs situations and interactions for a more-than-human urban environment. The mission: terraforming world's metropoles.

"Cities should be home to all forms of life, not just humans."

Following this principle, Urban Reef is developing "Reefs" which are designed to be open to a wide range of forms of life. These prototypes are created using algorithms and are 3D printed with "living" materials using Delta WASP 40100 Clay and the Continuous Feeding System. They can absorb water and provide a range of microclimates and nutrients, giving more organisms the opportunity to thrive in the city.

3D Printing 'living' Bio-based materials with Urban Reef
Video by Urban Reef
Urban Reef detail of 3D Printing with Bio-material
Photos by Urban Reef

3D Printed "Reefs" to Enhance Biodiversity in Cities

Reefs are intricate designs that can retain water through porosity, and offer a range of microclimates that complement urban settings and extreme climates. In this way they provide microrefugia for urban species, increasing biodiversity.

The 3D printer Delta WASP 40100 Clay is utilized to process complex geometrical designs with porous materials such as ceramics and composites (including mycelium, river dredge, sea shells and clay). The moisture in the air is able to pass through and cultivate the ideal environment for fungi to grow, thus giving life to structure.

The Continuous Feeding System allows the printing of larger pieces thanks to the significant increase of the machine's capacity combined with the automatic material outgassing system.

Rain Reef is 3D printed with a porous material (manufactured from a mixture of seeds, coffee grounds and mycelium), which is saturated with collected rainwater, rendering it accessible to vegetation being grown outside.

Pierre Oskam and Max Latour founders of Urban Reef
Pierre Oskam and Max Latour, founders of Urban Reef, with a series of Reef designs.
Urban Reef Rain Reef new design
Rain Reef new design strategy, printed with Delta WASP 40100 Clay
Urban reef greenhouse
Urban Reef's Greenhouse and growth details
Delta WASP 40100 Clay and the Continuous Feeding System
Urban Reef closeup of local dredge 3D printing
Urban Reef's latest experiments with local dredge

Professional LDM 3D Printing

Urban Reef is using Delta WASP 40100 Clay combined with the Continuous Feeding System to develop their prototypes. With Delta WASP 40100 Clay It's possible to print directly on the floor or on a printing surface removable steel. You can also continue printing without waiting for the piece to dry and simply by moving the printer.

Delta WASP 40100 Clay

3D printed Moon Enceladus for Triennale Milano

3D printed moon 'Enceladus' for Triennale Milano

3D printed art installation for Triennale Milano 'Unknown Unknowns'

Enceladus is a 3D printed art installation designed by Irene Stracuzzi and 3D printed by WASP Hub Mantova (Arche 3D) for the 23rd International Exhibition of Triennale Milano, headed by Stefano Boeri, and curated by Ersilia Vaudo.

The project explores Enceladus, a moon of Saturn that is believed to have an underground ocean beneath its icy surface, raising the possibility of life existing there. This has sparked curiosity in both scientists and artists about what its hidden world might look like.

Enceladus the 3D printed moon for Triennale Milano
Photo by © DSL Studio
3D printed Moon Enceladus for Triennale Milano
Photo by © DSL Studio

3D printing the moon 'Enceladus' with 3MT HDP

Enceladus was 3D printed by WASP Hub Mantova (Arche 3D) using WASP 3MT HDP, the large scale pellet 3D printer.

The digital model was provided by the European Space Agency (ESA) and then divided and worked on for printing. There are 12 pieces in total: 5 segments consisting of two pieces that are approximately 1 meter and 0.5 meter in height, welded with hot reinforcements to make transportation and assembly easier, and 2 removable pieces held in place by magnets, so they could be opened to load a smoke machine inside.

The total width is 3 meters and the total height is 1.5, and the material used is PLA INGEO white masterbatch. The total weight is between 150 and 200 kg. The total printing time is about 250 hours.

Exploded view of Enceladus 3D model by ESA
3D printing of Enceladus for Triennale Milano
Detail of Enceladus 3D printed moon
Photos by WASP Hub Mantova (Arche 3D)

Summary sheet

Piece name: Enceladus
Printer: 3MT HDP
Material: PLA INGEO with white masterbatch
Designed by: Irene Stracuzzi
Printed by: WASP Hub Mantova (Arche 3D)
Exhibition: Unknown Unknowns, An Introduction to Mysteries, Triennale Milano, from July 15 2022 to December 11 2022

Number of pieces: 12
Printing time: 250 hrs
Size: 3x1,5 m

Large scale 3D printing

Enceladus was created with the 3MT 3D printer. This is the best printer for creating medium-large pieces thanks to its wide printing bed area of 1 meter in diameter.


Cloroplastic, 3D printed installation in recycled PLA, biopolymer of plant origin for Muse - Science Museum of Trento.

3D printed installation for MUSE - Science Museum

3D Printing, Art and Biotechnology at MUSE Trento

From 30 November 2022 to 8 January 2023 it will be possible to visit the 3D printed installation 'Cloroplastic' for the MUSE exhibition “BioArt. Ricerche d’avanguardia e immaginario artistico” at Palazzo delle Albere, as part of the European project ACDC – Artificial Cells with Distributed Cores.

WASP participated in the project by creating a 3D printed installation using transparent materials of plant origin.

Cloroplastic, 3D printed installation in recycled PLA, biopolymer of plant origin for Muse - Science Museum of Trento.
Photo credit: foto archivio MUSE

Piece name: Cloroplastic
Printer: 3MT HDP
Material: Recycled transparent PLA of plant origin
Printed with: WASP Hub Milano (Superforma)

Cloroplastic: 3D printing of a transparent biopolymer of plant origin

Cloroplastic consists of a collective work inspired by nature and capable of reacting to stimuli from the environment, the result of the process of sharing scientific knowledge that took place during the Open Talks&Labs organized by MUSE as part of the progetto ACDC.

The outer membrane was printed in transparent PLA recycled with WASP 3MT HDP from the WASP Hub in Milan, Superforma.

The outer membrane of the structure was made of recycled transparent PLA of vegetable origin using WASP 3MT HDP, the 3D printer optimized for large-scale printing.

Making of Cloroplastic, a transparent 3D printed installation

The work is inspired by chloroplasts, organelles present in plant cells where chlorophyll photosynthesis takes place. It was built in a participatory way, through the use of digital manufacturing techniques and biotechnological laboratories.

In Cloroplastic, visitors who interact with the work will provide the light needed by plants to activate the photosynthesis process. The installation hosts Impatiens walleriana plants planted by the participants in the Open Labs, through the use of micropropagation techniques.

Cloroplastic: 3D printed installation for the MUSE of Trento
Photo credit: foto archivio MUSE
Photograph of Cloroplastic: the 3D printed installation for the MUSE of Trento
Photo credit: foto archivio MUSE

"This installation - explains Lucilla Galatà, project coordinator for MUSE - wants to show the results of a path we have undertaken in the museum as part of the ACDC project, to involve the community in research on the border between natural and artificial, living and non-living living, scientific research and artistic practices. The ultimate goal is to invite the public to look beyond these dichotomies and to inspire new connections and reflections”.

Overview of Cloroplastic: the 3D printed installation for the MUSE
Photo credit: foto archivio MUSE

PLA pellet

pla pellet

The material used to print the project is transparent recycled PLA of plant origin. Pellet printing has many advantages: You can use recycled plastic, and It's cheaper and faster than filament material.
Discover our pellet materials.

Large scale 3D printing

For this project it has been used the 3MT 3D printer. It permits to print big pieces until 1 meter of diameter and it is really used for installations or to create walls. The procedure is to print in pieces and then assembly them, building the entire structure.


3d Printer for School: WASP and Cometa will be at “Smart Education & Technology Days”

Three days dedicated to 3d printing for school application

Wasp has attended “Smart Education & Technology Days”, the Naple science-city in an exibition area of 380 mq that Cometa has committed to the School Technologies. Wasp, as main sponsor, has introduced the latest solution in the 3D printing for the educational field, in particular the impressive 3D Delta WASP 3MT.

WASP and school 3d printing


Nicola Schiavarelli, R&D e Trainer, from WASP tells how an Emilian start up has become quickly an excellent 3D printer center.

To learn playing: the meeting between Wasp and CrescoLab


That’s how the cooperation between the two realities was born  and how the colored meccano- printer has attracted children who have learnt to assemble and use it very shortly.

The 3D printer can become a toy and an effective educational tool: an idea and some little adjustments have been enough to transform the printer from a professional instrument into a giant meccano perfectly working. Everything bore from a meeting: some years ago the Cresco Lab team arrived in Massa Lombarda to buy  some 3D WASP Printers. WASP has grasped the potential of CrescoLab’s idea  and a mutual and interesting cooperation has started.

3d Printing for School

From Tuscany to Romagna

“We arrived in Massa Lombarda as simple buyers, we had to realize  prototypes for our jumbo meccano Cresco – the Cresco Lab leader Cristiano Cavani explains-. The result has been very satisfactory. We showed it to  Massimo Moretti and he was enthusiastic, that’s why we agreed to meet at Maker Faire and our cooperation started”. Cresco winks to the Meccano and to the Lego bricks: just one brick is useless, but each single brick has its own role in the whole, and every time something new must be invented. That’s the kit aim. “At that point - Cavani continues – we decided to build a 3D printer using our pieces; we have realized the model on Open Delta after a “reverse engineering” action, disassembling and replacing all mechanical elements,  only the heart and the electronic part have remained with the  WASP extruder”.

3d Printer for School

A play to sharpen users’wit

Just from a first sight, the cheerful aspect of this product Delta CW 18 24 in Kit, has soon emerged,  together with the need to  take action with it. “Massimo, in front of the resulting object, has enlightened and has suggested   its most suitable function. Practically, we have moved the idea of the 3D printer as being no longer a professional instrument, but on the contrary something which emphatically attracts because it looks like a toy ”.

There are several possibilities to use it , from the domestic purpose: in  a child’s or boy’s bedroom, to any level school: it may be easily adjusted according to the different levels and ages. It can be daily used as a creative or educational toy, but also as an instrument which helps to learn and study. And, what about its assembly? “It might happen that, once you have the whole kit in your hands, you find difficult to assemble the printer and you may lose your heart. To show  everybody that this is something possible, we had it assembled by children from 9 to 10 years old. The  instructions guide is full of images and very accurate: after one day training , all of them have easily mounted it and enjoying. I bet a grown-person has no courage to say he can’t do it!”.

3d Printing for School

Projects in progress

Technically, a part its cheerful  look in multicolored wood, this WASP 3D printer, is different from the other Wasp printers because it has no screw: each part connects to the others through magnetic joints.

“We have balanced everything,  now we are  working to update the printer so that it can become a scanner too”. The project is still growing and self-supporting : “Each new printer,  during the test phase, produces new pieces for its “daughter-machine”. All the pieces produced for the next machine are   free license   and can be down-loaded from the web site. We marry WASP philosophy, we believe in the know-how-spreading ”. Once again a project born from cooperation.

A very important value for WASP who every day chooses to work together with companies, makers, FabLab in order to achieve big shared results.