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WASP and HONDA collaborate on 3D Printing Clay Prototypes

3D printing of clay prototypes
Above: WASP and Honda explore 3D printing of clay prototypes for motorcycle modelling/Image Source: Wasp

HONDA R&D Europe and WASP together revealed that their collaboration is working on the development of different types of extrusion processes for industrial clay, creating a new approach for 3D printing clay prototypes. Both these companies have been working together since 2017.

The obvious target for this collaboration to use the industrial 3D printing of clay prototypes for the motorcycle modelling industry. Both teams have worked to enhance and speed up the industrial development process for motorcycles.

3D Printing Clay Prototypes

3D Printing Clay Prototypes
Above: Ceramic 3D printers developed by WASP/Image Source: WASP

Wasp has developed the LDM (Liquid Deposition Modelling) technology, which enables the 3D printing of clay or other dense fluid materials. The major advantage of 3D printing with clay is that the material is reusable and recyclable. Locally sourced natural materials can be used from ground zero to 3D print products. This helps in a sustainable product development as the material can be turned into a model with zero emissions, and is adaptable to any climate and context.

The new process accounts for an unprecedented freedom in manufacturing. The prototype parts obtained can be easily hand-finished and re-worked in case they do not meet the required specifications. The industrial clay used in the process can be re-used and re-printed countless times and with minimal waste in a logic of environmental and economic sustainability.

“Industrial clay was first introduced in the design studios thanks to the vision of Harley Earl, an American designer who -in the late 1920s- revolutionized the way of creating automobile prototypes. He is credited with comparing the skills of the sculptor to that of the modeller, emphasising his creative abilities and his role as mediator between designers and the engineers.”

– Antonio Arcadu, Design Modeling Coordinator at Honda R&D Europe

With a professional background ranging from industrial clay modelling to 3D engineering, from the virtual reality to additive manufacturing, the modeller figure has become today increasingly central to the development project.  Responsible for the entire materialization process, the expert’s work encompasses the 3D design made entirely in virtual environment, to the final hand-made manufacturing phase occasionally replaced by the clay milling process or subtractive manufacturing.

“The technological innovation consists in keeping at a constant temperature the whole system made by tank, connection pipe and extruder. WASP research has led to the creation of a revolutionary machine for printing industrial clay, the DELTA WASP 40100 clay, able to extrude and make the material never ending and reusable. Therefore, we consider WASP’s collaborative 3D printing a new concept in the additive industry.”

– Nicola Schiavarelli, Product Manager and one of WASP founders

Antonio Arcadu explained, “In order to preserve the creative process, we cannot rely on technology alone, but we need modellers not to interrupt their connection with matter in its most direct form: the hands. Although this is a newly introduced process, it can be considered disruptive in the automotive sector because it introduces a new flow, mostly additive, able to optimize processing times and reduce the amount of material used in the traditional and subtractive processes.”

Revealing the future approach, Nicola Schiavarelli said, “We are not stopping here, this is a technology that can open up many other fields such as sculpture, modelling, prototypes and the world of design. It largely reduces costs, manufacturing time without impacting labour force. It brings not a dichotomy, rather a collaboration between humans and machine. A new philosophy in 3D printing that becomes circular and collaborative.”


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