Building a house is no small feat. What if you could print one?
For the first time, researchers have 3D printed a residence entirely made from natural materials.
The 600 square foot house – built by a team from the American University of Maine – is made from wood fibers and bio-resins from sawmills.
Most existing 3D printed homes rely on high-emitting materials like concrete.
But this new prototype is fully recyclable, minimizing concrete use.
Maine Governor Janet Mills said the homes could help provide a climate-friendly solution to the state’s housing shortage of 20,000 units.
“It’s extraordinary. I didn’t know what to expect,” she told reporters during the houses unveiling.
“I thought maybe a piece of clay looked like something, but it’s a real house.”
How long does it take to 3D print a house?
The BioHome3D is a one bedroom, one bathroom bungalow. Inside the unit, the ceiling curves to meet the walls, creating a comfortable living space.
The building was printed in four modules, then moved to site and assembled in half a day. It took an electrician two hours to wire the house.
The University of Maine team hopes to reduce print time to two days.
But first they will monitor the prototype for several months, measuring how it copes with cold, snowheat and humidity.
If scaled, the printout residence could be a game-changer for housing shortages, Governor Mills said.
“It has the potential to help us with the homeless population, the homelessness issue. Not this winter, because it’s not ready for mass production yet,” she said.
“But once we have our factory of the future in place, we can produce houses like this.”
How could this 3D printed house help the planet?
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, construction and materials account for 11% of global carbon emissions.
Much of this comes from the concrete industry. Cement production alone generates about 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or about 8% of the global total. It also consumes almost a tenth of the world’s industrial water supply and a large part of the the sand.
The BioHome3D sits on a concrete foundation, but most of it is printed from “wood flour” – the waste left over from sawmills.
“There are 1.2 million tons of wood residue at our sawmills right now in the area that could go to print housing,” Habib Dagher, executive director of the university’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, told the crowd gathered inside the large lab.
“Unlike existing technologies, the entire BioHome3D was printed, including the floors, walls and roof. The biomaterials used are 100% recyclable, so our great-grandchildren can fully recycle BioHome3D.
. A house printed entirely recyclable flour wood unveiled by of the researchers