Projects and Initiatives

Oak Ridge National Lab

Developing bio-based, recyclable, next-generation materials conducive to large-scale additive manufacturing

A boat roof mold printed at Oak Ridge National Lab using a 100% bio-based, recyclable material system.

A $20 million research collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory, will support fundamental research in key technical areas in large-scale, biobased additive manufacturing. The partnership between UMaine and ORNL will advance efforts to produce new biobased materials conducive to 3D printing of large, structurally demanding systems. The research will focus on cellulose nanofiber (CNF) production, drying, functionalization and compounding with thermoplastics, building on UMaine’s leadership in CNF technology and extrusion research. By placing CNF from wood into thermoplastics, bioderived recyclable material systems can be developed with properties that may rival traditional materials, possibly even metals.

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Maine Technology Institute

Working with Maine’s innovative boatbuilders to incorporate cutting-edge tools for a competitive advantage

Maine boatbuilders pose for a photo at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center
Maine boatbuilders visit the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine to kick off the formation of a consortium focused on providing 3D printing technology to the boatbuilding industry. Photo courtesy of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center.

The University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center (UMaine Composites Center) has received $500,000 from the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) to form a technology cluster to help Maine boatbuilders explore how large-scale 3D printing using economical, wood-filled plastics can provide the industry with a competitive advantage. 

The cluster brings together the expertise of UMaine researchers and marine industry leaders to further develop and commercialize 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, to benefit boatbuilders in the state.

Small to medium boatbuilders are often challenged by the cost and lead time required to create traditional marine tools and boat molds. 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, can help significantly reduce the production time needed to fabricate boat molds, by as much as 75 percent according to researchers at the UMaine Composites Center.

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