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What Makes AMIE, the 3D printed home and vehicle, unique?

February 22, 2016 - 3:39pm


Meet AMIE - the Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy demonstration project. Led by the Energy Department's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and many industry partners, the AMIE project changes the way we think about generating, storing, and using electrical power. AMIE uses an integrated energy system that shares energy.

What happens when you remove all the constraints of today’s traditional building practices? You get AMIE. AMIE, or the Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy project, is one of the world’s first 3D printed houses. But it’s not just a house. It’s also a vehicle. It’s also solar panels, and energy storage, and intelligent controls. It’s an entire integrated energy system, and it’s changing how we think about generating, storing, and using energy. Sponsored by DOE’s Building Technologies Office, Advanced Manufacturing Office, and Vehicle Technologies Office, AMIE is redefining what’s possible. Here’s how:

1. Harnessing strong government-industry collaboration 

Led by the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), AMIE brings together a large team of industry leaders and top scientists to create a system that wouldn’t have been possible without their combined expertise. These partners, include architecture and urban planning firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Clayton Homes, GE Appliances, Alcoa, and many more. The team is demonstrating design, construction and manufacturing practices that are well beyond today’s standards.

2. Speeding construction with one of world’s largest 3D printers

Innovative, rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing processes took the AMIE project from concept to completion in less than one year. Both the house and the vehicle were printed with ORNL’s Big Area Additive Manufacturing Machine (BAAM), one of the world’s largest and most productive 3D printers today—a tool that’s cutting the time and costs of large-scale printing projects such as AMIE.

3. Producing next-generation low-cost, high performance insulation

The AMIE house is outfitted with next-generation vacuum insulated panels developed by NanoPore and ORNL. These panels are six times more efficient than currently available insulation products and will be available at a fraction of the cost, due to an innovative new manufacturing process. They are also considerably thinner than traditional insulation, ensuring occupants can maximize their living space while staying comfortable. 

4. Proving integrated energy is possible

AMIE demonstrates it’s possible to integrate the home, the vehicle, and the grid into a cohesive energy system. With AMIE, the house and vehicle can share energy with one another. The grid and solar panels supply energy to the house; surplus energy is stored in a battery, which can power the house when the sun isn’t shining. At times of peak usage, the vehicle can also wirelessly supply energy to the house. Excess solar energy stored in the battery can then charge the vehicle’s battery—creating a two-way energy flow.

5. A vision for the future

The electric grid faces unprecedented challenges—extreme weather, an increasing demand for renewables and energy efficiency, and uncertainty between centralized versus distributed power generation. AMIE is tackling this challenge head on, and in the process, showing us how we can dramatically improve the efficiency and resiliency of the nation’s housing stock, vehicle fleet, and grid—all at the same time.