cellulose2

Photo: Creative Tools AB – image has been cropped

Cellulose — the most abundant organic polymer on Earth. It is found in the cell walls of green plants as well as within many different forms of algae. Cellulose is even secreted by some types of bacteria. While the construction industry today depends a great deal on the use of wood and wood products, which has a large negative impact on our environment, researchers in Sweden may be able to change the entire landscape of construction via a unique 3D printing technology, if things go as planned.

Cotton represents the purest natural form of cellulose

Cotton represents the purest natural form of cellulose

Today, it’s been announced that a collaborative project has been formed, called the +Project. With recent funding raised from the EU Structural Funds, in the amount of 17.6 million SEK (approximately $2.1 million), the project is now worth over 35.3 million SEK (approximately $4.25 million). The +Project, which is based at Sliperiet at Umeå Arts Campus, a part of Umeå University, aims to 3D print full-scale cellulose based material, with an ultimate goal of 3D printing cellulose houses.

“The idea of the project is to develop a technology that can be used in reinforcing the manufacturing industry in the region,” explains Marlene Johansson, director of Sliperiet. “For Sliperiet the project, entitled the +Project, is a part in the strategy of forming collaboration in an open and interdisciplinary innovative environment. Here, meetings and collaborations are created between various scientific areas and together with companies in the region.”

The +Project looks to target industries within the wood and construction sectors, as well as within design, architecture and even IT. It has goals of producing cellulose-based 3D printable materials which can be used to print everything from walls within a home, to simple weather-stripping, doors and even entire houses.

Starting now, companies and individuals who are interested, will be tasked with developing prototypes for products that can be used by local companies and other individuals, based on the regional infrastructure of raw materials available. The +Project is slated to run until sometime in 2018, at which time a World Expo will be held. Ideas can be shared, and hopefully if all goes as planned, we will begin to see homes being 3D printed out of the world’s most abundant organic polymer, in the very near future.

3D structure of cellulose

3D structure of cellulose

 

“There is already technology in place to print parts of houses in concrete, for instance,” explains Linnéa Therese Dimitriou, Creative Director at Sliperiet. “Now, with this project, the region is one step closer to the front edge in the area of digital manufacturing and so-called mass-customization. This opens up for incredibly exciting future opportunities for the regional forest and construction industry as well as for regional raw material.”

It will definitely be interesting to see how this project evolves over the next few years. Is this the technology and construction material of the future? It very well may be.

What do you think about the possibilities of 3D printed cellulose based houses? Discuss in the 3D Printed Cellulose House forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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