Article Title: $3.3 Million in Funding to Support Innovative 3D Printed Housing Solution

Article Content


January 24, 2023

$3.3 Million in Funding to Support Innovative 3D Printed Housing Solution

Greater Bangor project uses new building materials, processes to address housing needs

BANGOR, Maine (January 24, 2023) – Penquis is receiving $3.3 million to support a project that may transform housing construction methods in Maine and across the nation while addressing the state’s housing crisis.

“Our state is facing a housing crisis that will take ingenuity and creative thinking to solve. Thankfully, that’s exactly what we’re seeing in this collaborative partnership with Penquis, the University of Maine and MaineHousing. By scaling up UMaine’s pioneering BioHome3D technology for use in the greater Bangor area, we are taking a positive step forward in building more housing and in supporting our economy,” says Gov. Janet Mills. “I am proud to see our support through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan and our most recent budget continue to yield progress, and I look forward to seeing how innovation like this can help us deliver safe places for Maine people to live. I thank Penquis, the University of Maine and MaineHousing for their collaboration, our congressional delegation for their work to provide funding, and the KeyBank Foundation for its generous support.”

“New solutions are needed to address the housing affordability crisis in Maine,” says Jason Bird, director of housing development for Penquis, noting that Maine has an estimated shortage of 20,000 to 25,000 affordable rental units. “One of the greatest challenges is the cost and slow pace of housing construction. This project is investigating ways to create units more quickly and inexpensively, as well as more sustainably.”

The project, using UMaine’s BioHome3D technology, is a collaborative effort involving Penquis, the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center and MaineHousing. New materials and methods developed by the University of Maine will be used to create a first-in-the-nation bio-based 3D-printed neighborhood. The neighborhood will be located in the Greater Bangor area and consist of nine homes that will provide housing for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness. 

The homes will be printed using a mix of recycled plastic and wood fiber waste from the Maine woods. Current onsite 3D-printing technology using concrete has limited construction seasons in colder climates and can only print the walls of the structure. The technology developed by the University of Maine can print the entire structure of a home including the walls, floors and roof, and the homes can be fully recycled. 

The nine homes will be constructed in UMaine’s planned Factory of the Future laboratory over  four years in phases, allowing time to evaluate and modify the home’s design based on housing performance, cost and feedback from the homes’ occupants. The goal is to optimize the home’s design and minimize cost in order to make this new type of construction commercially viable. 

“Following the recent unveiling of the first BioHome3D prototype at UMaine, we look forward to scaling up the design and production of the technology and demonstrating construction of a neighborhood. The GEM Factory of the Future Laboratory at UMaine is now being designed to allow scaling up of the BioHome3D technology and the training of the workforce.

“We thank our congressional delegation, led by Senators Collins and King, for supporting this new funding, as well their leadership to secure critical funding for the GEM Factory of the Future,” says Habib Dagher, executive director of UMaine’s ASCC.  

“The GEM Factory of the Future is a first-of-its-kind research and learning environment in next-generation large-scale digital manufacturing technology, combining engineering and computing/AI. It is key to implementing this 3D-printed neighborhood project and will provide students with immersive training internships at the intersection of engineering and computing,” says Joan Ferrini-Mundy, president of the University of Maine and vice chancellor for research and innovation for the University of Maine System.

In addition to helping to address Maine’s housing crisis, the BioHome3D technology will expand economic development opportunities in the state. The project could help create an entirely new industry, using large area additive and hybrid manufacturing, that will increase demand for locally-sourced materials, provide business opportunities for Maine forest-product suppliers and create new jobs in construction and manufacturing. 

The potential to address the housing crisis while spurring Maine’s natural resource economy is what earned the project $3 million in congressionally directed spending. 

“The University of Maine and Penquis’ production of the first 3D-printed house is a transformational achievement that lays the foundation for the future of affordable housing,” says Senator King.“As the state and nation face a serious housing shortage, this funding will build on the success of the BioHome3D project and support Penquis’ 21st century approach to housing construction. I’m proud to have helped secure this well-deserved congressionally directed spending and look forward to seeing how the project continues to develop Maine-made solutions to housing challenges.”

The project has secured private funding as well, garnering the support of KeyBank Foundation, which awarded Penquis a $300,000 grant in support of the initiative. Penquis has also secured funding from NeighborWorks America, a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization that supports community development throughout the US.

“At KeyBank, we believe everyone deserves a safe, secure and affordable home, and one of our community investment priorities is affordable housing,” says Tony DiSotto, Maine market president for KeyBank. “The application of the technology developed by the University of Maine to address the affordable housing crisis here in Maine and throughout the world is groundbreaking and exciting, and KeyBank is proud to partner with Penquis CAP, University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center and MaineHousing on the nine-home pilot program, which is the first step in creating a new manufacturing process, new jobs, and most importantly, new affordable homes in our community.”

KeyBank Foundation’s grant is made under Key’s National Community Benefits Plan established in 2017, which has already delivered more than $29 billion in lending and investments across Key’s national footprint supporting affordable housing and community development projects, home and small business lending in low- and-moderate income communities, and philanthropic efforts targeted toward education, workforce development, and safe, vital neighborhoods. KeyBank is also the #2 affordable housing lender in the country, lending $5.1 billion to affordable housing projects in 2021. 


About Penquis 

Established in 1967, Penquis is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting Maine families in becoming healthy, safe, connected, and financially secure. Penquis is Maine’s largest community action agency serving primarily low- and moderate-income individuals in Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Knox counties, with an even broader impact across all 16 counties. Penquis programs focus on four areas: economic security, school readiness, reliable transportation and healthy lives. Penquis touches the lives of approximately 6,000 people every day and more than 30,000 each year. 

About KeyBank Foundation

KeyBank Foundation serves to fulfill KeyBank’s purpose to help clients and communities thrive, and its mission is to support organizations and programs that prepare people for thriving futures.  The Foundation’s mission is advanced through three funding priorities – neighbors, education, and workforce – and through community service. To provide meaningful philanthropy that transforms lives, KeyBank Foundation listens carefully to understand the unique characteristics and needs of its communities and then backs solutions with targeted philanthropic investments. KeyBank Foundation is a nonprofit charitable foundation, funded by KeyCorp.

About KeyBank/KeyCorp

KeyCorp’s roots trace back nearly 200 years to Albany, New York. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Key is one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $189.8 billion as of December 31, 2022. Key provides deposit, lending, cash management, and investment services to individuals and businesses in 15 states under the name KeyBank National Association through a network of approximately 1,000 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. For more information, visit KeyBank is Member FDIC. 

About the University of Maine

The University of Maine, founded in Orono in 1865, is the state’s land grant, sea grant and space grant university, with a regional campus at the University of Maine at Machias. UMaine is located on Marsh Island in the homeland of the Penobscot Nation. UMaine Machias is located in the homeland of the Passamaquoddy Nation. As Maine’s flagship public university, UMaine has a statewide mission of teaching, research and economic development, and community service. UMaine is the state’s public research university and a Carnegie R1 top-tier research institution. It attracts students from all 50 states and 86 countries. UMaine currently enrolls 11,571 undergraduate and graduate students, and UMaine Machias enrolls 763 undergraduates. Our students have opportunities to participate in groundbreaking research with world-class scholars. UMaine offers 77 bachelor’s degrees and six undergraduate certificates, as well as more than 100 degree programs through which students can earn doctoral or master’s degrees, professional master’s degrees, and graduate certificates. UMaine Machias offers 18 associate and bachelor’s degrees, and 14 undergraduate certificates. The university promotes environmental stewardship, with substantial efforts campuswide to conserve energy, recycle and adhere to green building standards in new construction. For more information about UMaine and UMaine Machias, visit and

About the Advanced Structures and Composites Center

The University of Maine Advanced Structures and Composites Center (ASCC) is a world-leading, interdisciplinary center for research, education, and economic development encompassing material sciences, advanced manufacturing, and engineering of composites and structures. Since its founding in 1996 with support from the National Science Foundation, the ASCC has financially sponsored more than 2,600 students, received 120 patents, welcomed over 30,000 visitors, created 14 spinoff companies, and honored with more than 40 national and international awards for research excellence.

Inside the printed home with U.S. Senator Angus King, Kara Hay, CEO, Penquis, KeyBank Foundation and UMaine
Outside the printed home with Kara Hay, CEO Penquis and U.S. Senator Angus King.

If you have any questions or would like to be a part of this project or future housing solutions contact Jason Bird at