3D printing can revolutionize construction in the Arctic: Report

The Conference Board of Canada’s (CBoC’s) research series, Cool Ideas, launched with a look at how 3D-printed homes could be considered for northern and Indigenous communities. Photo © www.bigstockphoto.com
The Conference Board of Canada’s (CBoC’s) research series, Cool Ideas, launched with a look at how 3D-printed homes could be considered for northern and Indigenous communities.
Photo © www.bigstockphoto.com

The Conference Board of Canada’s (CBoC’s) research series, Cool Ideas, launched earlier this year with a look at how 3D-printed homes could be considered for northern and Indigenous communities. The series aims to spark discussion about how emerging technologies could potentially improve or disrupt the quality of life in the North.

“Revolutionary Building for the North: 3D Printing Construction” highlights how the technology could deliver significant cost and time savings. According to the board, construction and maintenance costs are extraordinarily high in the North as building materials must be transported on ice roads or sealifts and scheduled months in advance. The shortage of housing causes overcrowding in homes thereby contributing to health problems, interfering with youths’ learning and education, and intensifying domestic tensions.

However, questions remain on the effectiveness of the technology in northern and remote environments. 3D printers use a combination of extruded concrete and foam and it is not yet known whether these materials can stand up to Arctic climates. Concrete may also be too heavy for houses that are built on permafrost terrain and the shifting ground that comes with permafrost degradation due to climate change.

“There are still many unanswered questions about 3D printed homes. But, there are signs that 3D printing could revolutionize home construction and potentially help to address many of the housing challenges facing the region,” said Ken Coates, co-author of the report.

The Cool Ideas series will consist of approximately 10 reports, published over the next several years.

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