GB blog

  • anchor

    Can large scale 3D printing eco-friendly materials be used for structures?

    Gabriel Bustos
    Apr 12, '21 2:57 PM EST

    Can eco-friendly materials such as wood fill, mass timber,richlite, straw bale, hemp, or mycelium be implemented into 3D printing materials on a large scale for structure use? 

    3DFuel's bio filament offerings Source:

    3DFuel's bio filament offerings Source:

    Why do current building materials inadvertently pollute a person's health?

    Today, the amount of energy used and pollution generated from mass-produced construction materials is overwhelming. The amount of harmful chemicals used is growing exponentially, leading to many individuals developing allergies or becoming ill around new carpets, paints, adhesives, and an extensive range of building materials.

    Eco-friendly materials such as woodfill, mass timber, richlite, straw bale, hemp or mycelium, bamboo, clay, reclaimed wood, TFL (thermally fused Laminate), natural paints, and oils or waxes could use as an alternative to producing low energy buildings. That can be solid, safe, and can restore the environment from pollutants. Most of the Eco-friendly materials are grown from seeds and absorb carbon dioxide while they develop. After harvesting, they sequester greenhouse gas, avoiding emissions to the atmosphere. Eco-friendly building materials can breathe, absorb toxins and circulate moisture for a healthier indoor environment.

    Why is it a stigma to consider mushrooms as a building material?

    We have been fortunate to have used a lot of excellent alternative materials. Throughout history, we’ve use plants to make wood and cotton. We use animals to make leather and wool. However, the kingdom of fungi has been ignored. We have never used mushrooms for materials.

    Mycelium is the best natural polymer because it uses less energy and resources to make a product. It is grown with two components, the mycelium and local agricultural waste thrown away from crops. It becomes an adhesive to a given shape. According to Ecovative, Myco-works, Mycotech, and Mogu, “The mycelium is placed on a plastic mold for three to five days to glue itself into a solid shape. The growth happens indoors in the dark it doesn’t need light or watering; it just self-assembles. Once the process is completed, a shape is placed in an oven. Baking it at 200*F, at a minimum for 45 minutes, or evaporates with a press machine. Killing the fungi and guarantee never to sprout again".

    Could the designer's use of mycelium in 3D base material become a solution instead of a problem?

    Carlo Ratti Associati designed the living HY-Fi, the “Circular Garden,” and the shelly mycelium pavilion collaborates between BEETLES 3.3 and Yassin Areddia Designs. These designers used mycelium base bricks and mycelium molded materials to create Pavilions. As well as designer Eric Klarenbeek found a way to create solid objects from mycelium 3D printing. Eric Klarenbeek built the famous sprouting chair with potato starch string and mycelium to solidify it. Calls it the new bioplastic. It is a strong, solid, lightweight, isolating material. He states that with a larger 3D printer, “we can build a full-scale house with this material.” Eric Klarenbeek was a part of creating the growing Pavilion. The outer panels were grown from mushrooms, with the mycelium in the roots providing strength. They are covered with a coating that is a bio-based product.

     The growing Pavilion

    The growing Pavilion. landfills can close the wasteful loop

    Mycelium symbolizes a unique approach to how to use and dispose of construction materials. Being 100% biodegradable and found in abundance on the earth, natural growth from waste that can eliminate food, organic, and compost waste in landfills can close the wasteful loop. Mycelium-based materials have immense yet unexploited potential. Mycelium is nature's oldest and most significant decomposer that can potentially solve our modern problem.





    • 3D printing has its uses, in particular fast prototyping and the manufacture of things that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to make. Using this tech to replece existing production methods is inane: there is no economy of scale, automation drives unemployment (no FICA, insurance, vacations, sick days, etc. for machines), and the consumption of environmentally unsavory materials is deleterious. 

      So while the possiblity of environmenetlly-neutral materials sounds good, the reality is that even if such magerials can be developed the other problems remain.

      Apr 12, 21 7:45 pm  · 
      2  · 

      What Miles said. While something more eco-friendly than extruded thermoplastic would certainly be desirable, the reality is that 3d printing regardless of the material(s) (even if as in NASA's case "local" materials =  Martian regolith/earth) is unlikely to "be the future of construction".

      Apr 16, 21 12:58 am  · 
      1  · 

      Block this user

      Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?


      This is your first comment on Archinect. Your comment will be visible once approved.

    • Back to Entry List...
  • ×Search in:

About this Blog

Thoughts on the architectural design community.

Authored by:

Recent Entries