MOSCOW, Idaho – September 30, 2021 – The University of Idaho is developing technology to turn Idaho wood waste into one the most sustainable building construction materials on the market – by using it as a medium for 3D-printing building construction materials. Funding through 2025 supports further development and testing of an additive manufacturing process and the design and construction of a 3D printer capable of producing modular wall, floor and roof panels printed from wood for industrial construction. Working in collaboration with the College of Art and Architecture’s Integrated Design Lab and the College of Natural Resources since 2019, the U of I team has developed an advanced 3D-printing technology using a binding agent and wood fibers not used by the lumber market – like waste wood and sawdust from mills and wood processing plants. As part of the NSF funding, researchers from Auburn University will join the team to continue to refine the binding agent used in the renewable material. The multi-year, 3D-printing technology project is expected to positively impact Idaho’s fast-growing construction industry. The research focus is on the structural properties of printed materials and the continued testing of the material’s resistance to fire, water damage, pests and other degrading agents, improving its ability to stand the test of time. Despite rapid urbanization globally, Maughan said the U.S. construction industry experiences productivity losses of hundreds of billions per year.

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