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The world’s first biobased 3D printed house

Researchers at University of Maine in the US have revealed a 3D printed house made of recycled materials and wood waste and is intended to soothe the state’s housing shortage.

Constructed on the world’s largest 3D printer, the 55-square metre (600 square foot) house aims to be a solution to the housing crisis, labour shortage, supply chain disruptions and environmental challenges.

Called BioHome3D, the centre is made using robotics and artificial intelligence to build faster, cheaper and more sustainably than traditional construction methods. Rather than concrete, the researchers used scrap lumber, sawdust and construction debris to make wood flour as basic building material. The fine powder is turned into pellets by being mixed with biopolymers. The pellets are then melted and extruded by the 3D printer into the desired shape. The floors, walls and roof are all 3D printed with the material.

The house is said to be fully recyclable and highly insulated with 100% wood insulation and customisable R-values. Thanks to the precision of the printing process there was nearly no waste. The house was printed in four modules, which were assembled on site in half a day.

The prototype is currently sited on a foundation outside ASCC, equipped with sensors for thermal, environmental and structural monitoring to test how BioHome3D performs through a Maine winter. Researchers expect to use the data collected to improve future designs.

In the future, the researchers aim to print similar homes in as little as 3 hours and more complex shapes.

Photo: University of Maine