Here at Fungi Akuafo, we are interested in the vast potential that mycelium has to solve a number of problems that humanity is currently facing. Plastic and concrete are two of the most widely used materials on the earth. Plastic waste is no doubt a cause for concern, as it continues to pile up and damage the environment and the cement industry is the third-largest carbon dioxide emitter in the world.
We have a friend named Christina who is exploring the use of earthen materials to print high-performance structural elements. You’ve probably seen concrete printed houses or tools and parts that are 3D printed with plastic, but did you know that you can make building components printed from the ground beneath your feet, using the resources around you? Our friend Christina with 3D Space Terraform is building wall panels, bricks, raised garden beds, cob ovens, dog houses, etc. out of earthen materials like clay-fiber mixtures, natural geopolymers, mycelium, hemp, and more! We love what she is doing and are providing Christina with a variety of fungi species for testing in 3D printed mediums.
Christina is currently campaigning to raise money for a printer that is large enough to print full assemblies within a 9-foot space. The design, understanding, experience, materials, printing space, and software are all in place, but she needs help getting the printer. The printer costs $41,656 and she is hoping to raise $5,000 – $7,500 through ATB BoostR. With every pledge, there are awesome rewards, including 3D printed art, a 3D printed hempcrete brick, a night in the tiny hempcrete house, building plans for a hempcrete greenhouse, renting the big printer for the day, and so on! Check out her ATB BoostR page to donate and learn more.
There are others who are hopping on the train of using mycelium for 3D printing. A Netherlands-based company is experimenting with mycelium, seeds, and coffee cups to create a series of 3D-printed urban reefs that are less concrete and will allow air and water to pass through, and vegetation to grow on the outside! They are hoping to use this building material to act as a substitute for fountains in cities, helping to collect water in cities where concrete is predominant and water goes down the drain.
Blast Studio 3D in London is 3D printing a mixture of used coffee cups and mycelium into ‘tree trunk’ columns. The mycelium consumes the coffee cups and fruits mushrooms before the root structure is then dried to create a load-bearing architectural element with natural insulating and fire-retardant properties. The hope is to construct entire buildings from this material, building cities from their own waste, while providing food for their inhabitants.
An artist from the Netherlands, Eric Klarenbeek, is making objects out of straw and mycelium. He mixes the ground-up straw, water, and mycelium and then prints the objects using a 3D printer. The mycelium quickly replaces the water as the binding agent and a solid structure that is as light as cork is produced. Unlike 3D printing with plastic, the mixture doesn’t need to be heated while extruded, saving significantly on energy costs. His artwork serves as a metaphor for what could be built from living organisms and a 3D printer.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics (IBP) have discovered how to use mycelium and 3D printers to manufacture sustainable sound absorbers. The majority of modern soundproofing panels are made of synthetic foams or mineral fibers, which are neither sustainable nor recyclable. Mycelium and the substrates they’re grown on, such as straw, wood, or waste from food production, are eco-friendly, biodegradable and exist in abundance.