3-D printing a path to a more sustainable future

by Manuel Peralta II & Daiquiri Zozaya

Digital illustration on poster, 2023

With the various societal, environmental, and planetary changes and challenges we face scientist, artists, and communities are coming together to create a more sustainable way of life. Sustainability can be adopted across any discipline because its goal is to meet the needs of the present without jeopardizing the needs of the future while keeping people, the planet, and profit at the forefront of decisions made. As the scientist, my passion and focus of study is to build energy efficient homes.

One of the technologies rapidly improving in the construction industry is 3-D printing (3DP). 3DP utilizes a computer program to digitally print a material (such as plastic, cement, or soil) layer by layer into a geometric shape of your choosing. In home building, cement has been the more commonly used material to print due to its high strength properties, but does that necessarily make it sustainable? The cement industry contributes to approximately 8% of global CO2 emissions and my hope is to reduce it. The research here focuses on utilizing local soil material, such as adobe, as an alternative building material. Adobe is made up of soil material with high clay content, straw, and water.

In this science meets art team, we wanted to see how we can collaborate via our passions and convey it in a beautiful way. We are both native New Mexicans and thought it would be a great idea  to highlight our culture in our art piece. Our intention is to bring 3DP and digital illustration together to showcase what “Building a Better Burque” could look like in the future. We felt that highlighting New Mexican culture within our art piece would spark interest and curiosity, of all ages, in the community and hopefully bring a positive impact on what our shared future could look like.