Nearly Zero-Waste Solution for Construction: Reusable Robotic 3D-Printed Formwork from Upcycled Sawdust

Built Environment

The BioMatters team at the University of Michigan has developed a fully biodegradable, reusable and recyclable material to replace the wasteful concrete formwork traditionally used across the construction industry. The base of this material is upcycled sawdust.

The team proposes a novel method that couples robotic 3D printing of the wood-based material with incremental set-on-demand concrete casting to create zero-waste freeform concrete structures. The 3D-printed wood formwork shapes the concrete during casting, and the concrete stabilises the wood to prevent deformation.

Once the concrete cures, the formwork is removed and fully recycled by grinding and rehydrating the material with water, resulting in a nearly zero-waste formwork solution.

This research is paving the way for sustainable construction practices that reduce waste, pollution and resource consumption in the concrete industry. By upcycling this unused byproduct of the wood industry, the project represents a significant step toward environmentally friendly and efficient concrete construction methods.

Read more about it here.