MOSCOW, Idaho — The University of Idaho is developing technology to turn Idaho wood waste into architectural millwork and construction materials on the market — by using it as a medium for 3D-printing.
An interdisciplinary research team led by College of Engineering Assistant Professor Michael Maughan has been awarded nearly $4 million from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program.
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.
“We’re developing a new composite material, using completely bio-based resources on a truly large scale,” Maughan said, “With this technology, houses and commercial buildings can be made entirely differently. We can push past climate change, mitigate impact on our environment and make better use of the natural resources we have.”
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.
U of I continues to lead sustainable building projects like the Idaho Central Credit Union Arena, the country’s first engineered wood venue of its kind, which is scheduled to open next month.
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.
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