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(Archive) Getting Our Shit Together

3D-printing houses out of cow dung in the Netherlands

This project was part of DDW 2021
Render of 3D-printed manure house — © Meijer M., '3D-printed Home', [May 22, 2021]

The aim of Getting Our Shit Together is to optimize cow dung into a 3D-paste-printer filament, with the final goal of 3D printing inhabitable houses. It is a speculative research project on how to tackle the nitrogen overload and housing shortage in the Netherlands.

The problem is the solution

In the Netherlands there is an abundance of cattle, which produce overwhelming quantities of dung. On top of that, the huge nitrogen emission of the Dutch agricultural industry has put a halt on construction of houses during the current housing shortage. By making 3D-printed houses out of cow dung, the problem becomes the solution.

We collected cow poo from a local farm outside of Amsterdam. Several binders and fillers were added to the dung to optimize its filament properties. Eventually, three recipes yielded promising results. It were combinations of cow dung with the binders methyl-cellulose, sodium alginate and xanthan with additions of the calcium carbonate, tapioca starch and glycerin. After hacking a 3D printer into a paste printer and tweaking the settings in the Rhinoceros and Grasshopper software, we were able to 3D print a miniature house out of cow dung. With this project, we have therefore delivered a proof of concept for 3D printing houses out of cow dung, which offers great possibilities for further development.

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Printed Manure Sample — © Vlad M., 'Printed Manure Sample', [May 16, 2021]

Hacked manure paste-printer — © Vlad M., 'Manure paste-printer', [May 15, 2021]

All cow dung samples