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Voxeljet & Parastruct prove out 3D printing of recyclable construction waste for mould making

Voxeljet and Parastruct have carried out a successful proof of concept for the 3D printing of recyclable residual materials from the construction industry.

The two companies say the test was successful and are now hoping to develop the technology further alongside partners in mould making for cold casting and laminating applications.

Using Voxeljet’s VX200 binder jet 3D printing system, the partners produced test moulding parts in Parastruct’s Ecomould material set, which consists of biogenic production residues from the construction industry and a mineral binder. Having carried out the test prints, Voxeljet and Parastruct suggest the Ecomould material can be used to produce moulded parts for interior design objects or laminating processes.

As manufacturers are faced with increasing legal obligations and customer requirements as part of Corporate Social Responsibility strategies, Partastruct has endeavoured to develop sustainable value-added solutions, with Ecomould said to boast a ‘significantly lower’ CO2 footprint than conventionally manufactured sand-phenolic resin moulds, emitting ‘-108.3kg CO2 per 1m2 of mould surface’*. Moulds made with Ecomould can also be shredded and reused as particle material in 3D printing, while a coating that is also removable at the end of its service life can be applied as a finish.

Voxeljet and Parastruct are now looking for interested parties to join them in advancing the ‘transformation of a more sustainable construction industry’ via a possible funding project.

*Parastruct GmbH has used the Impact Forecast Tool to determine and certify carbon footprint.

The 3D-Printed Affordable Housing of the Future Will Be Recyclable

According to the University of Maine, the state’s sawmills produce nearly one million tons of wood residuals every year. Since ​​each 600-square-foot unit requires approximately 10 tons of wood residuals, 100,000 housing units could theoretically be produced every year using just sawmill residuals.

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The University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center received $3.3 million in funding for this project last year, and its collaboration with Penquis has set out to build a ready-to-live neighborhood with nine 3D-printed homes for people experiencing houselessness. As the team undergoes the final regulatory hurdles, Bird anticipates that houses could be ready to live in as early as this spring.
“The wood fiber material that’s used in the mix is essentially waste wood here in Maine,” says Jason Bird. Courtesy of the University of Maine ASCC
Once this pilot project is completed and the team at the University of Maine reaches full commercial capacity, Bird says the team will be able to print a home in as little as two days. 
“That would include the shell of the house — the roof, walls, floors system,” Bird explains. “Long-term [infrastructure projects] could include cabinets, countertops, bath fixtures. And what gets me so excited about this project is that the technology isn’t just solving a local problem, it could be replicated around the world.”
Dr. Habib Dagher, executive director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, confirms that the technology is intended to be widely replicated. 
“The goal of this research is to create a system for constructing homes that alleviates strains on the supply chain and addresses labor shortages, while providing economical and sustainable housing,” says Dr. Dagher. “This technology can be used anywhere in the world that has access to bio-based raw materials. We are focused on scaling up production technology to drive down costs and increase availability.”
And after enduring a year of extreme weather in Maine, with sensors reporting temperatures ranging from 1 degree to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, BioHome3D met all sustainability, strength, and durability requirements for US building codes, as well as the design requirements of the International Code Council code. 
“Doing this project in a place like Maine, which has some of the most extreme temperatures in the continental US, is vital because it can prove that this material can endure huge temperature swings,” says Sarah Goehrke, founder of Additive Integrity, a consulting service that focuses on the examination and sustainable acceleration of industrial 3D printing. “The fact that BioHome3D survived for a year is very important proof going forward.”