published about 4 hours ago
The University of Maine has unveiled the world’s first-ever bio-based, 3D-printed house — officially named BioHome3D — which has been built in Orono, Maine. If mass-produced, these homes could mark a major step forward in fighting against affordable housing and climate crises.
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The BioHome3D, which is 600 square feet, was built using a large polymer 3D printer and all-natural materials such as sustainably grown wood fiber. This means that it’s fully recyclable and leaves behind almost no waste. After being printed in four modules, the BioHome3D’s parts are moved to a building site and assembled there. Plus, it’s just as easy and eco-friendly to disassemble.
“Unlike BioHome3D, most [existing 3D print homes] are printed using concrete,” Dr. Habib Dagher, founding executive director of UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC), said in a statement. “Unlike the 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.”
Given that normal buildings account for nearly 40% of global carbon emissions, BioHome3D’s sustainable design could prove incredibly helpful in combating the climate change epidemic.
If mass-produced, they could also go a long way in addressing the United States’ affordable housing shortage. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there’s a need for over 7.2 million affordable housing units nationally. This situation is often exacerbated by the challenges of a labor shortage and supply chain-driven material price increases, the latter of which is not an issue for BioHome3D homes (which require less labor and on-site building time).
Meanwhile, printing bio-based 3D homes using locally sourced wood fiber helps benefit local forest product industries.
“With its innovative BioHome3D, UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center is thinking creatively about how we can tackle our housing shortage, strengthen our forest products industry, and deliver people a safe place to live,” Maine Governor Jannet Mills said in a press release.
For now, the BioHome3D is just a prototype. But now that the ASCC has received $30 million in federal funding and $15 million in state funding, a future with hundreds of sustainable, 3D-printed homes isn’t too hard to imagine.