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See the world's largest polymer 3D printer that was used to make a fully recyclable 600-square-foot tiny home in Maine

Brittany Chang   

See the world's largest polymer 3D printer that was used to make a fully recyclable 600-square-foot tiny home in Maine
The University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center is home to the world's largest polymer 3D printer.University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center
  • The University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center 3D-printed a tiny home.
  • The modular and prefab one-bedroom unit was built using recyclable pellets and ASCC's printer.

In the future, you may have to add the walls of your home to the list of recyclables you have to sort through before taking the trash out.

In 2022, the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC) unveiled its 600-square-foot BioHome 3D, a 3D-printed "bio-based" home.

And the construction method deployed for it was as unique as the final product. We've seen plenty of 3D-printed homes pop up on the market. But no other unit has been built with what the center says is the world's largest polymer 3D printer.

ASCC has a diverse portfolio from floating wind turbines to rebars, all with the goal of creating a more sustainable future.

ASCC has a diverse portfolio from floating wind turbines to rebars, all with the goal of creating a more sustainable future.
Brittany Chang/Insider

And this modern home with an eco friendly twist is no exception to the center's mission.

And this modern home with an eco friendly twist is no exception to the center
Brittany Chang/Insider

The walls of the one-bedroom unit hide a sustainable secret: It's made of fully recyclable materials.

The walls of the one-bedroom unit hide a sustainable secret: It
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

And the ASCC is now testing the durable material's ability to be recycled five times over.

And the ASCC is now testing the durable material
Brittany Chang/Insider

The research and development center printed its home out of wood waste instead of the more popular option, a concrete mix.

The research and development center printed its home out of wood waste instead of the more popular option, a concrete mix.
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

To create this recyclable printer "ink," the center and its various industrial partners encapsulated wood residuals with bio-resins, creating pellets of durable printing material.

To create this recyclable printer "ink," the center and its various industrial partners encapsulated wood residuals with bio-resins, creating pellets of durable printing material.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The wood residuals used to create this project were sourced from a variety of sawmills, giving waste a second life.

The wood residuals used to create this project were sourced from a variety of sawmills, giving waste a second life.
Lumber prices plummeted in June.      Carolyn Cole/Getty Images

Someday, the goal is to source all of it locally.

Someday, the goal is to source all of it locally.
Brittany Chang/Insider

And Habib Dagher, the founding executive director of the center and principal investigator of this project believes there's enough supply to do so: He says Maine produces enough wood waste to build 100,000 homes a year.

And Habib Dagher, the founding executive director of the center and principal investigator of this project believes there
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

These small pellets were then fed into ASCC's 3D printer and excreted as the walls, ceiling, and floor of the home …

These small pellets were then fed into ASCC
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

… similar to a "glue gun with hundreds of settings," Dagher said.

… similar to a "glue gun with hundreds of settings," Dagher said.
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

Like other up-and-coming homebuilders, the university took a modular and prefab approach to building this 600-square-foot home.

Like other up-and-coming homebuilders, the university took a modular and prefab approach to building this 600-square-foot home.
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

The home was printed, insulated, and pre-wired inside the center's manufacturing facility as four 200-square-foot modules.

The home was printed, insulated, and pre-wired inside the center
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

These modules were then moved outside using a crane and flatbed truck.

These modules were then moved outside using a crane and flatbed truck.
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

And in less than a day the home was installed onto a concrete foundation and powered with the help of an electrician.

And in less than a day the home was installed onto a concrete foundation and powered with the help of an electrician.
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

Besides the home, ASCC's printer itself — first installed in 2019 — is an impressive feat on its own.

Besides the home, ASCC
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

The center says its 60-foot-long, 10-foot-tall printer is currently the world's largest polymer 3D printer.

The center says its 60-foot-long, 10-foot-tall printer is currently the world
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

And it already has an even larger one in the works that will eventually dwarf this existing printer.

And it already has an even larger one in the works that will eventually dwarf this existing printer.
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

Inside, the unit has a fully furnished bedroom, bathroom, and joint living room and bedroom.

Inside, the unit has a fully furnished bedroom, bathroom, and joint living room and bedroom.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The layered and curved walls like the ones shown below are a signature of 3D printers.

The layered and curved walls like the ones shown below are a signature of 3D printers.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The walls in the bedroom were printed at an angle while the ones in the living room look more parallel, a result of different printing techniques deployed throughout the project.

The walls in the bedroom were printed at an angle while the ones in the living room look more parallel, a result of different printing techniques deployed throughout the project.
Brittany Chang/Insider

The big goal is to print a home in 48 hours. This project took about 10 times longer.

The big goal is to print a home in 48 hours. This project took about 10 times longer.
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

But this could soon be expedited as ASCC prepares to break ground on an extension of its manufacturing project next year.

But this could soon be expedited as ASCC prepares to break ground on an extension of its manufacturing project next year.
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

When complete, a nine-home development will be its first project.

When complete, a nine-home development will be its first project.
University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center

“Our number one priority is to alleviate the societal problems [like housing and sustainable construction] we are facing right now,” Dagher said. “There’s an opportunity here to harness these biomaterials and help solve these problems.”

“Our number one priority is to alleviate the societal problems [like housing and sustainable construction] we are facing right now,” Dagher said. “There’s an opportunity here to harness these biomaterials and help solve these problems.”
Brittany Chang/Insider

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