As researchers try to find a sustainable and replicable way to improve the current housing situation, 3D printed homes are a hot topic. University of Maine researchers have constructed the first-ever 3D printed house made entirely of bio-sourced materials. The house, BioSource3D, was created by the university’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC) in association with MaineHousing and the Maine Technology Institute. They benefited from funding provided by the Hub and Spoke program between the University of Maine and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, run by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The MasterPrint x3 from Ingersoll, which ASCC claims to be the largest 3D printer in the world, was used to create the new home, a 600-square-foot prototype. The Illinois-based company Ingersoll produces large format printers. The MasterPrint x3 can print 68kg per hour and has a working volume of 6 m x 4 m x 2 m and a print volume of 18.3 m x 6.7 m x 3 m. A 5-axis machine head is used. The home is well-insulated and constructed entirely of recyclable materials.
Maine is the most forested state in the US, which benefits the Center’s research on materials made from forests. These materials are used to create cellulose nanofibers (CNF), which are then dried and given a thermoplastic functionalization. This process was used to create this 3D-printed bio-sourced home, which has properties comparable to conventional materials. Green Energy and Materials, or GEM, is the center’s main study area. Research projects are being produced to support Maine’s ambition to become carbon-neutral by 2045. The creation of the largest 3D-printed boat in the world, 3Dirigo, which is also the largest 3D-printed object at 25 feet long and 5,000 pounds in weight, is another project success from the University of Maine’s ASCC.
One should not undervalue the significance of sustainable housing. It is crucial to building homes quickly, cheaply, and in a way that can be repeated for years as resources are depleted, and housing becomes increasingly scarce. According to the National Housing Conference, housing costs are rising in hundreds of US towns and cities, and young people aren’t sold on owning a home. Consequently, 3D printing might offer a practical long-term substitute for pricey and time-consuming conventional methods. The American company Azure is working on a similar project where they will use recycled plastic to build structures with a custom printer.
You can find more details about this 3D-printed housing project on the ASCC website.
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