From the Ground Up

The Hub: Breakthrough

Written by Melea Reicks Licht

Pete Evans with a large-scale 3D printer.

You’ve heard of 3D printing — the additive manufacturing technology that deposits, molds, or joins material into useful items — but have you heard of 3D printing an entire house?

Pete Evans (‘95 BAR, MID ‘17), assistant professor of industrial design, says this emerging tech could capture Iowa’s workforce and help meet the need for affordable housing. Using 3D printers can lower construction risks, reduce material usage and waste, and allow faster response to natural disasters.

His team in the College of Design is collaborating with Iowa Central Community College, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, and Brunow Contracting to bring the idea to life with a demonstration build in Hamburg, Iowa.

Iowa State earned four grants totaling $2.15 million to fuel the effort, including $1.4 million from the Iowa Economic Development Authority to pay for the 3D printers and materials.

Located in the Computation and Construction Lab these construction 3D printers are used for printing models and testing materials. Some large construction 3D printers are 15-by-50-by-8 feet.

Researchers hope to gain insight on the design, affordability, zoning and building codes, community engagement, and training needed to scale up this tech and bring 3D printed homes to the state and nation.


Online Extra

Video Poster
Watch large-scale 3D printing in action.