Researchers from Umeå University in Sweden are working with external partners to develop a technology to make full-scale 3D prints of cellulose-based material. It is not a matter of small prints – the objective is to make houses.

“The idea of the project is to develop a technology that can be used in reinforcing the manufacturing industry in the region,” says Marlene Johansson, director of Umeå University’s Sliperiet facility. “For Sliperiet the project, entitled the +Project, is a part in the strategy of forming collaboration in an open and interdisciplinary innovative environment.”

One goal of the project is to produce cellulose-based materials for full-scale 3D printing, which can be anything from printing weather-stripping and doors, to walls and, in the end, complete houses. Together with various collaborating partners, Sliperiet has received 17.6m Swedish Krona ($2.91m) from EU Structural Funds in an interdisciplinary development project aimed at building a strong area of innovation and a regional cluster in digital manufacturing, sustainable building and 3D technology. In total, the collaborative project is worth SEK35.3m ($5.84m).

The target audiences for the +Project are small and medium-sized industries in the construction and wood sector as well as creative markets such as architecture, design and IT. Entrepreneurs, creators and companies will, in collaboration with the university and research institutes, develop prototypes for products and services based on the regional infrastructure and raw materials – prototypes that can be commercialised by regional companies and entrepreneurs. The plan is also to explore new circular models for business and production and to create a competence centre for sustainable building and administering.

“There are rapid developments within the area of digital manufacturing in construction,” says Linnéa Therese Dimitriou, Creative Director at Sliperiet. “With our project, we hope to help put the region at the forefront of this innovation area. Digitalisation, and through it mass-customisation, can provide incredibly exciting opportunities for the regional forest and construction industry, and create sustainable business opportunities based on our natural resources.”