Have you ever thought; “What will they think of next?” That’s what I thought when I read about the 3D-printed house that the University of Maine made entirely with bio-based materials. 3D-print is nothing new. It has been used to make prototypes of products for a long time. E.g., during the Covid -19 pandemic, face shields were made with 3D printing because it was faster than traditional manufacturing. And now, the first house has been printed. A real house, 56 square meters big (600 square-foot), ready for moving in.

3D-printed house

In a press release on the 21st of November, the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC) presented the BioHome3D, the first 3D-printed house made entirely with bio-based materials.

The 56 square meters (or 600-square-foot) house features 3D-printed floors, walls, and a roof of wood fibers and bio-resins. It’s a fully recyclable house that is highly insulated with 100 percent wood insulation.

3D-printed house

The 3D-printed 56 square-meter house outside ASCC in Maine.
Photo: University of Maine

The prototype is sited outside ASCC, equipped with sensors for thermal, environmental, and structural monitoring to test how BioHome3D performs through a Maine winter. The data collected will help improve the future design.

BioHome3D was printed in four modules, then moved to the site and assembled in half a day. Electricity was running within two hours with only one electrician needed on site.

Demand for homes

The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that there is a need for 7 million affordable housing units in the US. The BioHome3D could help alleviate the US housing shortage and at the same time create new jobs.

The technology of BioHome3D is designed to address labor shortages and supply chain issues that are driving high costs and constricting the supply of affordable housing. Less time is required on-site building and fitting up the house due to the use of automated manufacturing and off-site production.

Good for the environment

Using abundant, renewable, locally sourced wood fiber reduces dependence on the supply chain. These materials support the revitalization of local forest industries and are more resilient to global supply chain disruptions and labor shortages.

According to United Nations Environment Programme, buildings account for nearly 40 percent of global carbon emissions. Wood fiber is a renewable resource that captures carbon during the tree growth cycle. When used in a building, the wood fiber stores carbon during the lifetime of the building and, if it’s recycled properly, after it is recycled.

More information

You can read more about the BioHome3D project in the press release here.

Source and photo: University of Maine