Universities team up to create biobased materials suitable for 3D-printed buildings


In Alabama, researchers at Auburn University and University of Idaho have partnered to develop materials from agricultural waste that can be used to 3D-printed homes. The Auburn group will focus on converting biomass into chemicals and nanomaterials suitable for 3D printing, and the team at University of Idaho will conduct the test printing. 

Brian Via, the Regions Bank Professor in Auburn’s School of Forestry of Wildlife Sciences and director of the school’s Forest Products Development Center, says the project will produce 3D-printed wall panels for use in housing and building construction. “This will allow for precise construction in a manufacturing environment using sustainable materials that can be shipped to the construction site. Through bio-based polymers and fibers, we can 3D print building components that allow for end-of-life recycling,” he adds. 

The project, officially called “Developing a Circular Bio-Based Framework For Architecture, Engineering and Construction Through Additive Manufacturing,” has received a multimillion dollar grant from the National Science Foundation. The group expects to also compare the greenhouse gas footprint of their building materials versus a traditional concreate and steel building.