Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Construction Engineering Technology


Meredith Kirkmann

Committee Members

Phil Dunn, Will Manion, Curtis Marston, Samantha Jones

Graduation Year

May 2022

Publication Date

Spring 5-2022


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the life cycle, embodied energy, and sustainability potential for large scale additive manufacturing of 3D printed homes. Additive manufacturing is the process of selectively depositing materials using a 3D printing process, which optimizes material usage and reduces waste. I performed a preliminary Cradle to Cradle Life Cycle Analysis for constructing 3D printed homes using a bio-based material, poly-lactic acid (PLA) filled with wood flour. For purposes of this study, I consider the Life Cycle Analysis to be the environmental assessment of each stage of a product’s life cycle, from material sourcing, processing, printing, functional life, to end of life.

As this is an emerging industry, there have been only a few projects nationwide using 3D printers to construct single family homes at full scale. The Life Cycle Analysis will address 3D printed homes and the construction industry’s dire need to adopt sustainable practices at large. I will analyze potential savings in terms of improvements in sustainability.

I will also review available methodology and standards of Life Cycle Analyses to evaluate the emerging practice of using novel bio-based materials in construction. Specifically, bio-based materials for large area additive manufacturing. This Life Cycle Analysis involves evaluation of embodied energy of bio-based composite materials, sourcing of materials, and processing of materials and printing of 3D printed houses, expected functional lifespan including maintenance, and considerations such as transportation and end of life disposal of materials in comparison to traditional stick-built homes.