BioHome3D, the first bio-based 3D printed home made entirely of bio-based materials, was unveiled by the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC). BioHome3D was created with funding from the US Department of Energy’s Hub and Spoke programme, a collaboration between the University of Maine and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. MaineHousing and the Maine Technology Institute were among the collaborators.
The 600-square-foot prototype has 3D-printed wood fibre and bio-resin floors, walls, and roof. With 100% wood insulation and customizable R-values, the house is fully recyclable and highly insulated. Because of the precision of the printing process, construction waste was nearly eliminated.
BioHome3D – The Bio-based 3D Printed Home
The United States, particularly Maine, is experiencing a crisis-level shortage of affordable housing. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is a national need for more than 7 million affordable housing units. According to the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, the state’s housing deficit is 20,000 units and growing each year. In Maine, nearly 60% of low-income renters spend more than half of their income on housing. The twin challenges of a labour shortage and supply chain-driven material price increases exacerbate this untenable situation.
“Our state is facing the perfect storm of a housing crisis and labour shortage, but the University of Maine is stepping up once again to show that we can address these serious challenges with trademark Maine ingenuity.”– Gov. Janet Mills
Mills added, “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 so they can contribute to our economy. While there is still more to be done, today’s development is a positive step forward — one that I was proud to support through my Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan and my budget. I extend my congratulations and thanks to the University of Maine and its partners, and I look forward to continuing to tackle these problems with innovative solutions.”
Along with Mills, those present at the event included U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, Jeff Marootian, senior advisor for energy efficiency and renewable energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, Rebecca Isacowitz, acting chief of staff for the DOE’s office of energy efficiency and renewable energy, Steve McKnight, acting advanced manufacturing office director at the DOE, and Xin Sun, associate laboratory director for energy science and technology at the DOE. The leaders toured the ASCC, delivered remarks, and took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Legislators, housing advocates and developers, as well as Maine high school and university students, were also present.
“With today’s production of the world’s first ever 3D-printed house made from recycled forest products, the University of Maine continues to demonstrate its global leadership in innovation and scientific research.”– U.S. Sen. Susan Collins
Collins expressed, “This remarkable accomplishment was made possible by the tenacity and expertise of Dr. Habib Dagher, his team and students at the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center. I commend them on pioneering this new market opportunity for Maine’s forest products industry, which could help alleviate our nation’s housing shortage. Their groundbreaking work will lay the foundation for the future of affordable housing and help create new jobs across our state.”
Future low-income homes can be customised to meet a homeowner’s space, energy efficiency, and aesthetic preferences using advanced manufacturing processes and materials developed at UMaine. Importantly, as manufacturing technology and material production scale up, homebuyers can anticipate shorter delivery timelines.
“We are finding solutions here at ASCC to the pressing problems that our world faces and that Maine faces, through research on transformative offshore wind technology, next-generation solutions for transportation infrastructure, advanced forest products and large-scale 3D printing, and of course, affordable housing.”– UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy
Ferrini-Mundy continued, “The work that goes on in this lab absolutely exemplifies the work of a land grant institution — an institution that was started in order to help to solve the problems of, and further the economic advancement of, the state of Maine in partnership with the people of Maine. I couldn’t be more proud to point to this lab and exactly how that’s happening right here.”
The prototype is currently installed on a foundation outside ASCC and is outfitted with sensors for thermal, environmental, and structural monitoring in order to test how BioHome3D performs during a Maine winter. Researchers intend to use the information gathered to improve future designs.
BioHome3D was printed in four modules, then transported to the site and assembled in less than a half-day. Within two hours, power was restored with only one electrician on-site.
This project is the result of strong collaborations within and outside of the UMaine community. The UMaine-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Hub and Spoke Program is leading the research and development of sustainable, cost-effective bio-based 3D printing feedstock alternatives, such as the material used for BioHome3D.
BioHome3D’s successful print builds on the ASCC’s demonstrated excellence in advanced manufacturing, design, and modeling. The prototype was created using the world’s largest polymer 3D printer, which also created the world’s largest 3D-printed boat in 2019.
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