University of Idaho wins $4m funding to research sustainable 3D printing

The University of Idaho (Charles Knowles/Dreamstime)
A team from the University of Idaho has landed a $4m grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Programme to look for ways to turn wood waste into printed construction components.

The money will go towards the development and testing of a 3D printer capable of producing modular wall, floor and roof panels.

Almost $1m has been awarded to the project so far and a further $3m will be disbursed before the end of 2025.

The team will also investigate the structural properties of printed materials and their resistance to fire, water damage and pests.

The research team will be led by Michael Maughan, an assistant professor at the university’s College of Engineering.

Maughan said: “We’re developing a new composite material, using completely bio-based resources on a truly large scale. With this technology, houses and commercial buildings can be made entirely differently. We can push past climate change, mitigate impact on our environment and make better use of the natural resources we have.

“Housing construction has very low productivity in terms of return on time invested. When you build a house, the contractors show up, they have to lift up the structure and frame it in. A number of things can disrupt the process – weather, manpower, tools, skill sets. It’s all very inefficient.”

The University of Idaho has been working alongside the College of Art and Architecture’s Integrated Design Lab and the College of Natural Resources since 2019.

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