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Introducing: World’s First 100% Bio-Based 3D Printed Home

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Introducing: World’s First 100% Bio-Based 3D Printed Home

The University of Maine has unveiled a first-of-its-kind bio-based home, utilizing wood fibers, prefabrication, and 3D printing techniques.

Quinn Purcell, Managing Editor
March 6, 2023
Bedroom in 3D-printed wood home
The walls, floors, and roof of the 600 square-foot BioHome3D were all additively manufactured off-site. Photo courtesy ASCC. Credit: MJ Gautrau, University of Maine

3D-printed housing is often associated with wavy concrete walls and a yet-to-be-seen affordable price point. What if we could print homes that aren’t just affordable, but sustainable, too? Enter: the world’s first 100% bio-based 3D-printed home.

The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures & Composites Center (ASCC) unveiled a first-of-its-kind bio-based home, utilizing prefabrication and 3D printing techniques. Through its modular methods and a partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ASCC was able to print pieces of the structure with local wood fiber and bio-resin materials.

Unlike the concrete 3D-printed homes that we see today, BioHome3D had its walls, floors, and roof all printed—each being 100% additively manufactured off-site. The house itself sits at 600 square feet, insulated with wood fiber and blown-in cellulose insulation. The lab is also working on developing new types of wood fiber insulation, though it's still an emerging technology.

BioHome3D printed home living room
The unique design of the home shows the capabilities of ASCC’s 3D printer. Photo courtesy ASCC. Credit: MJ Gautrau, University of Maine

And though the structure is completely 3D-printed, that doesn’t mean it leaves out traditional design elements altogether. The home includes several accent drywalls and custom flooring to showcase the additional possibilities—not limitations—of bio-based printing.

The BioHome3D is a significant step toward building affordable housing despite supply chain issues and labor shortages—all while maintaining a sustainability focus. But why choose wood, rather than rice fibers or cork granules, for instance?


According to Evan Gilman, chief operating engineer, additive manufacturing, UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center, timber is an abundant resource in Maine. But there’s a better reason than simply having a large supply on-hand.

BioHome3D printed home wooden exterior
The strategy for BioHome3D included a continuous print for the entire shell of the home—from floor to ceiling. Photo courtesy ASCC. Credit: MJ Gautrau, University of Maine

“Wood residuals are good for carbon capture,” says Gilman. And in developing this new 3D printing material, he hopes to answer the question: “How much wood could we possibly add?”

UMaine and Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Hub & Spoke Program has more than just housing in mind, however. By utilizing the world’s largest polymer 3D printer at the ASCC, the partners are beginning several projects to solve problems in other industries. As Gilman previously comes from the ship building industry as a mechanical engineer, perhaps we could see more 3D-printed boats in the future? (Though that’s just my speculative intrigue).

For now, the facility at UMaine is expanding to continue developing its research. Gilman sees the addition to the lab aiding in printing bio-based homes at scale—testing its viability before industry adoption.

BioHome3D printed home kitchen
BioHome3D comes at a time where biophilic design has never been more popular. With wood as a printing additive, could bio-based homes provide biophilic benefits as well? Credit: MJ Gautrau, University of Maine

The prototype is currently sited on a foundation outside ASCC, equipped with sensors for thermal, environmental, and structural monitoring to test how BioHome3D performs through a Maine winter. Researchers expect to use the data collected to improve future designs.

For more on 3D-printed homes and biophilic design, read it here on Utopia.

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