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3D Printing Could Advance Additive Manufacturing and More

By Jim Romeo | Dec 7, 2022
Illustration of a house with a red door. Image by Jan from Pixabay.

3D printing and additive manufacturing are being used in scenarios including the rapid prototyping of parts and materials, replacing conventional manufacturing for short and limited runs of equipment, and constructing buildings and facilities.

3D printing and additive manufacturing are being used in scenarios including the rapid prototyping of parts and materials, replacing conventional manufacturing for short and limited runs of equipment, and constructing buildings and facilities.

In November 2022, the University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center completed a 3D-printed house made with bio-based materials. This house is the first of its kind.

The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hub and Spoke program, which matched the University of Maine with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Other partners involved with the project include the Maine State Housing Authority and the Maine Technology Institute.

The structure is a 600-square-foot prototype and made with 3D-printed floors, walls and roof made of wood fibers and bio-resins. The bio-resins and bio-base materials are what make the project unique. The finished house is fully recyclable and is also well insulated with 100% wood insulation and customizable R-values (a measure of how well insulation resists the conductive flow of heat).

Unlike traditional construction processes, 3D-printing a structure is quite precise. The materials are additive and generate very little waste and are fabricated to exact specifications.

Prototypes such as the one serves as proof of concept that additive manufacturing has many prospects and promises in the industrial world. For electrical contractors, this represents an opportunity to stay engaged with 3D printing as a pathway to construction. This type of construction is likely to be more prevalent in the future. Those electrical contractors who are aware and engaged in the benefit of 3D printing will be a value-add as a supplier to any such project.

About The Author

ROMEO is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, Va. He focuses on business and technology topics. Find him at www.JimRomeo.net.

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