3D Printing Sustainable Building Components for Façades and as Window Elements

EPA Grant Number: SU835547
Title: 3D Printing Sustainable Building Components for Façades and as Window Elements
Investigators: San Fratello, Virginia , Lewis, Samantha C. , Binni, Anyssa , Riordan, Benjamin , Conte, Brian , Straubing, Cassandra , Cuneo, Desiree , Nonaka, Kohei , Speer, Leslie , Chan, Liane , Tainter, Lynn , Everling, Marissa , Wagner, Molly , Wright, Shannon , Leroux, Victoria
Institution: San Jose State University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: II
Project Period: August 15, 2013 through August 14, 2015
Project Amount: $89,940
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2013) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Sustainable and Healthy Communities , P3 Challenge Area - Chemical Safety , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


To develop curtain wall and free standing wall systems using additive manufacturing technologies and wood-based materials.


Design and fabricate three 6’ x 10’ prototypical wall systems using wood based material with the Z CORP 3D printer, wood filament in the Fused Deposition Modeler (FDM) and recycled wood-based paper in the MCOR printer.

This research requires design and testing of wood-based materials in the three different printers and will experiment with new applications in building design that take advantage of additive manufacturing. Designs will be tested for compressive strength, strain, tensile strength, absorption and light. Constructed walls will also be tested for creep, recovery, coefficient of thermal expansion, thermal conductivity and deflection. Ultimately material specimens as well as designed parts will be tested using standardized methods. Strategies for connecting the wood based units into larger surfaces (façade elements and free standing walls) will also be explored in the full scale prototypes. The full scale prototypes will be installed in a public venue where mechanical, structural, chemical and optical properties of the walls will be measured over time.

Expected Results:

The production of full scale working prototypes that can be installed on site and measured through observation and actual physical measurement are vital. Students will measure mechanical, structural, chemical and optical properties of the walls. Students will do temperature analysis and readings, measure UV degradation, environmental stresses or crazing, light transmission, surface reflectance, and any relaxation or recovery observed. This research and technology could pave the wave for entirely alternative methods of building construction that would consequently improve the current impacts of construction waste on the environment.

Supplemental Keywords:

3D printing, passive solar design

Relevant Websites:

Phase 1 Abstract

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2014
  • Final

  • P3 Phase I:

    3D Printing Sustainable Building Components for Facades and as Window Elements  | Final Report