BioHome3D receives prestigious national Award at CAMX 2023 in Atlanta

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Nov. 2. 

BioHome3D, the first ever 3D-printed house made entirely with bio-based materials, has been honored with the Combined Strength Award at the 2023 CAMX Conference in Atlanta. 

This award recognizes a product that embodies the spirit of collaboration and innovation through the use of composite materials. CAMX, the Composites and Advanced Materials Expo, is the largest, most comprehensive composites and advanced materials event in North America.

Development for BioHome3D was led by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC), a project primarily funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office. Project partners included Oak Ridge National Laboratory, MaineHousing, WBRC Architects and Engineers and the Maine Technology Institute. 

“I am so proud of our ASCC faculty, students and researchers who have received this prestigious national award at CAMX. BioHome3D’s innovation and value to the construction and homebuilding industry is further validated today,” says Joan Ferrini-Mundy, president of the UMaine and its regional campus, the University of Maine at Machias. “I look forward to the next steps in this critical housing initiative, including our plans to build the research Factory of the Future, to scale up the technology, and develop the workforce that will implement this technology in society.”

The 600-square-foot prototype home, unveiled at UMaine on Nov. 21, was 3D printed with wood residuals and bio-resins, making it the first all-biobased 3D printed home in the world. Maine has a need for nearly 78,000 housing units by 2030, but has an acute labor shortage, which along with high material costs, have driven up new housing costs. Maine has an abundance of wood residuals or wood waste, nearly 1 million tons per year from sawmills, which used to go to now shuttered pulp and paper mills. This is enough wood to produce 100,000 600-square-foot homes.  

To further drive the carbon footprint down, BioHome3D also used locally sourced and manufactured materials such as wood fiber insulation, wood composite flooring and siding, and locally produced windows and doors. 

The additive manufacturing process significantly reduces labor costs and construction waste, enhancing sustainability and resource efficiency. BioHome3D is also fully recyclable, and the UMaine ASCC is evaluating five cycles of grinding and reuse for the materials used.  Additionally, BioHome3D can be thought of as a carbon storage and sequestration unit when sustainably grown forest residuals are used. 

BioHome3D’s innovative technology addresses critical issues such as labor shortages, supply chain constraints and high construction costs that hinder the accessibility of affordable housing. By leveraging automated manufacturing and off-site production, BioHome3D drastically reduces on-site construction time, providing a viable solution to the challenges faced by the housing industry and bolstering Maine’s abundant forest resources.

“We thank CAMX for this prestigious award, as it comes near the one-year anniversary of installing BioHome3D”, says Habib Dagher, founding executive director of the ASCC. “After one year of testing through a challenging Maine winter, BioHome3D has performed extremely well and is proving to be one important potential solution to our housing crisis here in Maine and throughout the US.  We are continuing research to further drive manufacturing and materials cost down while offering a more sustainable solution.”

As the manufacturing technology and materials production are scaled up, future homeowners can anticipate faster delivery schedules, positioning this technology as one viable solution for affordable, sustainable housing. Cellulose residuals exist throughout the U.S. and the world, and can be derived from trees or from other plants such as rice husks or hemp fibers.

Research for BioHome3D was performed, in part, at the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. The facility is home to the MDF Consortium, a nationwide group of collaborators working to advance U.S. manufacturing technology under the guidance of the DOE Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO).  

BioHome3D’s achievement at CAMX 2023 underscores ASCC’s commitment to creating sustainable housing solutions that have the potential to revolutionize the housing industry and significantly contribute to a more energy-efficient and eco-conscious future.