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This rendering shows what an industrial 3D printer might look like when installed in one of Iowa Central’s East Campus buildings.

As communities across America face similar housing shortages, two local agencies are working together to research and test potential solutions.

Iowa Central Community College and Iowa State University announced a partnership late last year to purchase giant industrial 3D printers used to build homes. The Iowa State Economic Development Agency has awarded Iowa State University’s College of Design a $1.4 million grant for his 3D Affordable Innovation Technology Housing Project.

Students at Iowa Central University are trained to use the technology, so Iowa State students are testing, researching, and testing the technology, said Pete Evans, an assistant professor in the industrial design department at Iowa State University. will be analyzed. Evans is the leader of the 3D printer project.

Components for the 40-foot-wide printer are beginning to arrive at Iowa Central’s East Campus at 2031 Quail Ave. It will be assembled in the next few weeks, and the printer is expected to go live next month, Evans said. . First, we’ll focus on getting the printer working, and understanding how it performs through the fall and winter.

“We do small tests, small microhouses, different tests that we can run inside.” Evans said. “So this is a 12 months in a year type of operation.”

When spring comes they will take the printer outside and try some tests outdoors.

“It’s a small scale where you can test different components on a concrete wall and start building a habitable type of shelter.” Evans said.

Next spring and summer, the school plans to send crews to Hamburg in Fremont County to test the printers and actually build the house on site.

The partnership and project are a multifaceted ecosystem, Evans said. The projects and research done through it include everything from technical education for the workforce, to materials science, economics, and anything else that can be leveraged to quickly create suitable housing.

A 3D printing project could also have long-term impacts on Iowa Central.

“We will incorporate current carpentry programs into the use of printers and introduce them to new technologies available through this partnership.” Neal Adams, Associate Vice President of Iowa Central, said:

Adams said colleges could design associate degrees in advanced construction as a result of the equipment.

“This is all new to us, so we understand what needs to be done to design a curriculum based on equipment.” He said.

3D printing is a new and evolving construction technology. The base price of the printers purchased by Iowa Central and Iowa State is approximately $400,000. We also plan to add a material delivery system and other components to the machine. The printer will eventually be able to produce building materials using concrete, insulating foam, plastic composites, and other composites, Evans said. They’re also looking at the ability of various materials to be greener than concrete, such as corn stover, recycled glass, and even fiberglass that could be recycled from decommissioned wind turbines.

“I think what’s interesting is that there isn’t much research or information out there about this technology.” Adams said.

This is one of the first programs in the country to focus on using and testing 3D printing for home construction, Evans added.

Yavapai College in Arizona has a similar 3D concrete printing program.

“Plus training the workforce for that.” Dan Oswald, a carpentry instructor in central Iowa who works with 3D printers, said: “So if it is possible [as a construction tool], there will be people in the industry with the ability to do that when it comes to the forefront. ”

This partnership, and the industrial 3D printing technology it brings, will set Iowa Central apart from other schools, said Stacey Mentzer, Iowa Central’s vice president of education.

“I think that means great things. It will give students something that no other community college in the state can offer.” she said. “I think increased opportunities are always good for colleges.”

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