UoW team gets US government backing for 3D printing with recycled plastic


A University of Wollongong researcher has been awarded backing from the United States’ National Science Foundation and the CSIRO for a project involving the use of waste plastic for 3D printing home goods on construction sites.

Dr Aziz Ahmed, a lecturer in structural engineering, is the project lead on the multi-disciplinary, multi-organisation project, titled “Designing for Circular Economics: Creating Impact from Local Plastic Waste Using Off-Grid Containerized 3D Printers and Practice Based Learning”.

“Imagine a world that supports the sustainable manufacturing of furnished homes using local plastic waste, while not only diverting garbage from landfills but also creating jobs and training under-represented talent. What if this opportunity could be scaled globally in both rural and urban areas in a modular package?”, said Ahmed.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to work on such a visionary project, and even more so as it is under the umbrella of National Science Foundation’s Convergence accelerator program, which aims to accelerate convergence research into application and commercialisation.”

The UOW team will focus on “the net zero aspect in the design of a scalable and accessible, net-zero-footprint 3D printing-based manufacturing system” that can be transported across sites and operated by lay users. The desired result is “Furnished homes that are sustainable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing, with a significant socio-economic impact,” according to a statement from the university.

The project also involves researchers from Austin Habitat for Humanity in Texas, The University of Texas at Austin and Western Sydney University.

Funding is through the NSF’s Convergence Accelerator Program Track I: Sustainable Materials for Global Challenges. More information is available here.

Picture: credit University of Wollongong

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