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New report explores whether 3D printing can revolutionize construction in Northern communities

A new report is recommending 3D-printed housing be tested in Northern communities as a potential solution in addressing housing problems in Northern and Indigenous communities.

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Ken Coates

A new report authored by Ken Coates, Canada Research Chair and Johnson Shoyama Professor at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) campus, and Carin Holroyd, Associate Professor at the USask, and issued by the Conference Board of Canada, explores whether the effectiveness of 3D printing technology is a viable building solution within the context of northern and remove environments.

Housing and general construction is one of the greatest challenges across the territories and the upper, remote regions of the provinces, and comes at a premium cost. Building materials must be transported on ice roads or sea lifts, during a short transportation season, and need to be scheduled months in advance. As a result, there are sever shortages of suitable housing, causing overcrowding in homes which contributes to health problems, interfering with youths’ learning and education, and intensifying domestic tensions.

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Carin Holroyd

If suitable materials can be found and other key northern construction challenges addressed, the general application of 3D printing for homes could make a meaningful impact in the North, at one-third of the cost or less.  Coates and Holroyd believes this could unleash a revolution in northern home construction, with long-term lasting effects that go beyond construction.

“Ultimately, the country needs to determine if 3D-printed construction is suited to Northern Canada and if its use can contribute to cost reductions and improvements in the availability, quality, and adequacy of housing—critical problems for the North that are in need of innovative solutions,” says Coates.

Click here to read the entire report, Revolutionary Building for the North: 3D Printing Construction.

This report the first in the Conference Board of Canada’s Cool Ideas research series, in which Coates and Holroyd will investigate new and emerging technologies of potential application in northern and rural areas.  Each report examines the potential socio-economic impacts and disruptions associated with possible technological applications and considers the policy and program aspects of these promising—and potentially disruptive—innovations.  

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