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Amazing things can happen when academia, industry and government get together to advance cutting-edge innovation. Officially known as the Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy demonstration, and realized through ‘innovative rapid prototyping’ in under a year, the 3D-printed prototype was designed by a great number of top players, including world-renowned architects, engineers, and planners Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM). With so many great minds behind the 38 x 12 x 13 foot design, the suite of exciting features comes as no surprise.

“Through the integration of scientific knowledge and high-performance architectural design, the AMIE building explores the potential for a 3D-printed enclosure to condense the many functions of a conventional wall system into an integrated shell – structure, insulation, air and moisture barriers, and exterior cladding,” writes SOM in a press statement.

“This could lead to zero-waste construction, reduced material consumption and buildings that can be ground up and reprinted for new forms and uses.”

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After printing, AMIE is reinforced with steel rods to mitigate any weaknesses in the printed material. The result is a stalwart structure that resists both lateral and live loads and holds up nicely to full scale load testing. And while the ribs make the space look more like an open garage than a home, rest assured the building is super insulated – partly with glazing, and partly with interior atmospherically insulated panels (AIP) and vacuum-wrapped panels that ensure, according to the designers, the largest thermal barrier in the smallest possible space.

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SOM says the integrated photovoltaic panels work with a natural gas-powered generated in the vehicle, which was designed by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL). This energy is used for lighting and a microkitchen developed by GE with its own suite of sustainable features. When these are not in use, the solar power will charge the building’s battery.

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The 3D-printed hybrid vehicle also connects to the structure and offers an additional power supply through bi-directional wireless energy technology and high-performance materials.

“AMIE is the result of a unique creative partnership of science and design,” says SOM. “The breakthrough embodies ORNL materials science, 3D printing leadership and additive manufacturing capability combined with SOM multi-disciplinary building design, integrated-systems innovation and project delivery experience.”

+ SOM

Images via SOM and screengrabs