June 16, 2024


Creative meets living

This experimental design studio used beetle-infested trees to 3D print a cabin

HANNAH, an experimental design studio, turned waste wood into a 3D printed house called Ashen Cabin. The aim of the project is to highlight how new manufacturing practices can play a role in upcycling waste. Tucked away in a forest in Ithaca, N.Y., HANNAH turned emerald-ash-borer-infested wood into a sustainable, usable material.

Emerald ash borer (EAB) is an exotic beetle that feeds on the inner bark of ash trees. An EAB infestation often results in the tree dying after one or two years. EAB has destroyed 40 million ash trees in Michigan alone since it was introduced in North America by way of Detroit in 2002. Once severely infested, these trees are categorized as waste wood.

HANNAH used high precision 3D scanning and robotics-based manufacturing technologies to transform the wood into a useable material. The house was completed in two phases.

First, the base, floor, chimney and interior fixtures were 3D printed as nine interlocking concrete pieces. The 3D printer allowed Hannah to only use the concrete where structurally necessary. This reduced excess waste and the concrete’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Next, HANNAH 3D scanned EAB-infested ash trees. Then a repurposed industrial robot from eBay sawed the scanned wood into interlocking planks that made up the facade of Ashen Cabin.

“Infested ash trees often either decompose or are burned for energy,” Sasa Zivkovic, HANNAH co-founder told Design Boom. “Unfortunately, both scenarios release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And so the advantage to using compromised ash for construction is that it both binds the carbon to the earth and offsets the harvesting of more commonly used wood species.”

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