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UMaine Builds World's First 3D Printed House from Wood Waste

The University of Maine will unveil the prototype next week, built from scrap lumber, sawdust and construction debris with help from MaineHousing, the U.S. Department of Energy and researchers at Oak Ridge National Labs.

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(TNS) — The world's first bio-based 3D printed house is set to be unveiled Monday at the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center in Orono.

Built on the world's largest polymer 3D printer, the 600-square-foot BioHome3D is being pitched as a potential solution to the housing crisis, labor shortage, supply chain disruptions and environmental challenges.

The center is using wood waste, robotics and artificial intelligence to build housing faster, cheaper and more sustainably than traditional stick-built construction, researchers have said.

The 10 a.m. unveiling will include Gov. Janet Mills, who allocated $15 million to the center in her Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan and $2 million to UMaine research and development in her supplemental budget. Other participants will include members of Maine's congressional delegation and a variety of state and federal officials. The center also has received $30 million in federal funding.

While most 3D print construction uses concrete, researchers at the UMaine center used scrap lumber, sawdust and construction debris to make wood "flour" that can be used as a basic building material. The fine powder is formed into pellets using biopolymers, which are naturally formed by green plants, animals, bacteria and fungi. The pellets are then melted and extruded by the 3D printer into the desired shape.

The center built the BioHome3D prototype in collaboration with MaineHousing, the U.S. Department of Energy and researchers at Oak Ridge National Labs.

Eventually, researchers hope to "print" the BioHome3D in as little as three days, including walls, floors and roof. The technology someday could be used to build apartment complexes, researchers have said.

©2022 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.