Researchers have 3D printed a fully recyclable house from natural materials

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As the United States faces a crisis, researchers at the University of Maine believe they have found a solution to the problem. Using one of the , the university’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC) recently created the first . Finding a way to make large-scale 3D-printed houses is a challenge that many have attempted in . To date, most solutions have involved the use of concrete or clay and traditional construction methods such as timber framing. CCSA’s “BioHome3D” is different.

The center’s 600-square-foot prototype features 3D-printed floors, walls and roof made of sustainably sourced wood fibers and organic resins. The house is also fully recyclable and does not require weeks or months of on-site construction time to assemble. After 3D printing four modules, the center assembled the BioHome3D in half a day. It then took about two hours for an electrician to wire the house with electricity.

The ASCC suggests that BioHome3D could help solve the housing shortage in the United States by reducing the materials and labor needed to build affordable homes. In Maine alone, there is a growing shortage of about 20,000 homes statewide.

It should be noted that the housing shortage in the United States predates the pandemic and the supply chain issues that accompanied it. , senior researcher at , argues that current housing problems can be attributed to restrictions that allow residents to block attempts to build more homes in their neighborhoods. In other words, the housing crisis is best viewed as a political issue, not a technological one.

That’s not to say that technology doesn’t have a role to play in improving housing. Cement, the key ingredient in concrete, has a massive carbon footprint. In 2018, global production of the material contributed approximately annual greenhouse gas emissions, more pollution than that produced by the airline industry as a whole. Reducing or entirely eliminating the need for concrete in residential construction could be a game-changer for the environment.

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