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Integrated Design Lab Receives Grant to Assist Idaho's Fast-Growing Construction Industry through 3D Printing of Building Panels

September 05, 2019

Ken Baker, the director of the university's Integrated Design Lab, a research, education and outreach lab in Boise housed under the College of Art and Architecture, received a nearly $1 million grant that will positively impact Idaho's fast-growing construction industry. The grant will allow Baker and his team to develop a 3D printing process for the sustainable manufacturing of wall, floor and roof panels, made from locally sourced Idaho wood, for modular buildings.

The increasingly popular industry of modular construction allows building assemblies to be constructed in factories off-site, increasing labor productivity, reducing construction site waste and streamlining the construction process. Baker and his team have proposed the use of Idaho wood, especially wood products that are not used by the lumber market — like waste wood from mills and wood processing plants — to reduce our dependence on imports and lower the cost and energy output from transporting out-of-state products. This practice would have additional economic impact on the state through the hiring of a more skilled, technology-savvy construction workforce.

The $895,900 grant is funded by the Higher Education Research Council and Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission. Baker's team includes faculty and students from the College of Natural Resources and the College of Engineering, along with Boise State University's Department of Construction Management. Masters of architecture student Lyndsay Watkins is also working on the project.

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The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at