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University of Maine reveals first 100% bio-based 3D printed home

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This next story takes us to Maine, where a very old building material is getting a new application.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The old material is wood. The new application is 3D printing. Researchers say they learned how to make a 3D-printed house out of bits of wood.

INSKEEP: 3D-printed homes are seen as a source of cheap housing. A single giant machine assembles a house layer by layer, normally out of concrete. Habib Dagher, of the university's Advanced Structures and Composites Center, says Maine's forest products industry can provide a different material.

HABIB DAGHER: There is roughly 1 million tons per year of material in our sawmills that could be used. And to print the home, we need about 10 tons.

INSKEEP: Yeah, they're using, like, waste material. This wood house is fully recyclable.

DAGHER: Two-hundred years from now, our grandchildren don't want the house anymore. We can grind it up, put it back into the printer and print something else with it.

MARTÍNEZ: Dagher says the printing process is faster than building a conventional home.

DAGHER: Our goal here is when we scale up the process, is to be able to print a home every 48 hours.

INSKEEP: And right now, they're putting their product to a test.

DAGHER: The house that we have outside right now is going to go through a good old Maine winter.

MARTÍNEZ: Some people in Maine would like to help.

DAGHER: We've had a lot of people already ask to sleep in it for the night. We've had people suggest that we Airbnb it.

INSKEEP: (Laughter) Airbnb. Researchers hope this technology could reduce homebuilding costs in the future.

(SOUNDBITE OF STANDARDS' "8BIT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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