3D printed housing company
FAQ | ICON
Media interested in writing a story about ICON, please visit our CONTACT page. To download assets for your story, visit our electronic press kit for media only.
What is ICON?
ICON develops advanced construction technologies that advance humanity. Using proprietary 3D printing robotics, software and advanced materials, ICON is shifting the paradigm of homebuilding on Earth and beyond. Follow @ICON3DTech on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Tell us about the origins of ICON and the company’s mission.
ICON is an advanced construction technologies company dedicated to revolutionizing homebuilding. Through proprietary 3D printing technology and cutting-edge materials, ICON provides sustainable solutions to a number of our world’s most pressing issues, including the pandemic of homelessness in the developing world, the difficulty of constructing off-planet space habitats, and the exorbitant cost of customized housing.
ICON’s three co-founders were independently working on large-scale 3D printing for homebuilding in 2017. Jason Ballard, co-founder the CEO spent the last decade+ of his life focused on sustainability and health in the built environment. After working on literally thousands of homes, Jason began saying to himself, "Surely there is a better way to build homes that is more affordable, less wasteful, and more energy efficient than conventional building methods." Approaches to construction hadn't changed in so long it was like people had forgotten how to even imagine a different way. That began a months-long study and research project (including prefab, insulated concrete forms, SIP panels, advanced framing, robotic bricklaying, architectural fungus, etc.) that landed Jason on 3D printing as the most promising technology to create a true revolution that checked all the boxes he cared about. He re-connected with his TreeHouse co-founder and friend Evan Loomis and the two decided to start working on it and build a prototype in a warehouse in Austin on the weekends. Meanwhile, a fresh college-grad and engineer named Alex Le Roux was working on a similar project in Houston. His prototype was actually able to print a mortar-based tiny home. Eventually, after hearing rumors of each other for months, the three entrepreneurs met and decided to start working together.
Fast forward to today... ICON is a for-profit advanced construction technologies company using 3D robotics, software, and advanced materials to reinvent the homebuilding industry. The first 3D printer was ready to print in early 2018 and successfully printed a permitted, 3D printed home in Austin in March 2018 alongside nonprofit partner, New Story. In March 2019, ICON unveiled its next generation 3D printer for homes, the Vulcan, and began shipping the technology for projects in the U.S. and in Mexico. To date, ICON has delivered two dozen 3D-printed homes/structures across the U.S. and Mexico, the most completed by any construction tech company.
Tell us more about ICON’s printer?
ICON unveiled its next generation “Vulcan” 3D printer for homes on March 11, 2019 and a few months later began shipping the award-winning technology to begin its very important work of delivering affordable, resilient, dignified housing around the world. To date, the Vulcan construction system has delivered two dozen 3D-printed homes / structures across Mexico and the U.S.
The Vulcan is the first printer of its kind in that it has the capability of printing homes in which people actually want to live. It can be operated by anyone with basic training thanks to the improvements in automation, mechatronics and a suite of specialized software.
Has ICON received any funding?
ICON has raised $451 million in funding to date.
February 2022: ICON raised $185 million in a series B-1 round of financing led by Tiger Global.
August 2021: ICON completed a $207 million series B round of financing led by Norwest Venture Partners. ICON welcomed Jeff Crowe, Managing Partner at Norwest Venture Partners, a leading multi-stage investment firm, to its Board of Directors. From world-renowned architects to the country’s largest homebuilders, ICON’s line-up of series B investors also included 8VC, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, BOND, Citi, Crosstimbers, Ensemble, Fifth Wall, LENx, Moderne Ventures and Oakhouse Partners.
August 2020: ICON announced its series A round of financing led by Moderne Ventures. The company welcomed Constance Freedman, Founder and Managing Partner of Moderne Ventures and Khan Tasinga, Director at Palantir Technologies, to its Board of Directors. Notably, the international architecture firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group joined the series A round of investors, which also includes CAZ Investments, Citi, Crosstimbers Ventures, Ironspring Ventures, Next Coast Ventures, Oakhouse Partners, Trust Ventures, Vulcan Capital and Wavemaker Partners.
October 2018: ICON announced $9 million in seed funding led by Oakhouse Partners. Jason Portnoy, Managing Partner, Oakhouse Partners, who led the seed round of funding, joined ICON's Board of Directors. Seed round investors included Cielo Property Group, D.R. Horton and Emaar among others. ICON’s round of funding accelerated the development of its printers, created a variety of home types and designs and enhanced its core technology stack to further its mission of using advanced construction technologies to advance humanity.
Is ICON a publicly traded company?
No, ICON is a privately held company.
How long was the next generation of the Vulcan 3D printer in development?
The ICON team began research and development immediately following the completion of their first prototype 3D-printed home in March 2018. The work shifted into high gear about fall 2018 following a seed round of financing.
What features does the next generation Vulcan have in comparison to its predecessor?
Tablet-based controls, advanced UI, 4x larger print area, 2.5x faster, automated material mixing, pumping, and delivery, safety features, remote monitoring, and on-board lighting for printing at night or in low-light conditions and more.
Where and when will you be 3D printing more homes?
ICON has delivered two dozen 3D-printed homes and structures to date across the U.S. and Mexico, the most completed by any construction tech company.
Numerous projects are underway to deliver social housing, disaster relief housing and mainstream housing developments in addition to the development of construction systems for further exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.
What are the challenges of 3D printing in less than ideal conditions?
The Vulcan construction system has delivered projects in seismic zones, flood-prone areas and a variety of climates. The printer that was deployed to Nacajuca, Mexico in 2019 to deliver the world's first community of 3D-printed homes for housing nonprofit, New Story, was designed to work under the constraints common in places like Haiti and rural El Salvador where power can be unpredictable, potable water is not a guarantee, and technical assistance is sparse. Building the printer to not rely on these items was crucial to bet on the reliability of the printer in the field.
When will the first humans move into a 3D printed home by ICON?
In late summer 2020, the first humans to ever live in a 3D-printed home in the U. S. moved into their 400 square-foot homes at Community First! Village in Austin, TX. Learn more.
Additionally, the world's first community of 3D-printed homes were completed in Nacajuca, Mexico for housing nonprofit, New Story. The organization is working with families on the best dates to move into their new homes, but likely will occur once the neighborhood is complete, which includes ecoblock homes as well. Learn more.
The first, permitted 3D-printed home located in Austin, TX (also known as the Chicon House) is used as an office space for the owner.
Is the first printed home by ICON a permanent structure?
Yes. In March 2018, ICON built the first, permitted 3D-printed home in the U.S. Located in Austin, TX, the 350 square foot proof-of-concept home was 3D printed on-site and is a permitted, permanent structure that has received a full Certificate of Occupancy permit by the City of Austin.
How long are the 3D printed houses expected to last that ICON has printed?
The printed homes are expected to last as long or longer than standard Concrete Masonry Unit (CMU) built homes. The homes are built to the International Building Code (IBC) structural code standard.
Are the roof, windows and other finishes done conventionally or also 3D printed on ICON's past and current projects?
To date, each of ICON's delivered projects have included conventional construction methods for the finish out of the homes including the roof, windows and other finishes. To learn more about ICON's projects, visit the Updates page.
Are there challenges meeting housing codes?
Beyond torrential downpours in Austin over the printing time period of the first, permitted 3D printed home we delivered in March 2018, the challenges included mostly structural engineering and foundation adjustments as the city had never seen a building of its kind. The home received a full certificate of occupancy.
The homes at Community First! Village in Austin, TX are built to standard building codes according to IBC, City of Austin and ADA. The team is currently working with the City of Austin on its first mainstream housing development of 3D-printed homes for developer 3Strands.
Can you print two-story buildings?
The current technology is focused on single-story structures. We look forward to future advancements and delivering multi-story projects.
How long was ICON working on 3D printing before printing the first home in Austin, TX?
The team was tinkering for 2-3 years before forming the company, and then was actively in stealth mode for about a year creating the Vulcan construction system, which was unveiled during SXSW in March 2018. The next generation of the Vulcan construction system was unveiled in March 2019 and began printing homes summer 2019.
When was the first prototype home created and how long did it take?
In March 2018, the first permitted, 3D printed house was created in ~47 hours of total printing time spread across several days. The 350 square-foot home is located in Austin, TX. The home served as a proof-of-concept and was created in partnership with the housing non-profit, New Story. New Story and ICON broke ground on the first 3D printed community in the world in late summer 2019 in Tabasco, Mexico.
Is the Vulcan printer for sale?
We’re glad you’re interested in the future of homebuilding and considering a 3D-printed home. We are working hard to make more printers as fast as we can. We are working with strategic partners to deliver specific projects and continuing to further the advancements of the technology stack. We will keep everyone posted as there is new information to share.
When can we purchase 3D printed homes by ICON?
In March 2020, developer 3Strands, announced America's first 3D-printed homes for sale marking it the first multi-home mainstream housing development project leveraging ICON's proprietary 3D printing technology to construct the two to four bedrooms homes.
In the future, we hope to see ICON’s technology stack of robotics, software and advanced material in the hands of many developers, architects, builders and organizations. At this time, we are working with a handful of strategic partners to deliver big projects both domestically and internationally and continuing to iterate on the technology.
How long does it take to 3D print a home using ICON’s technology?
Currently we have printed homes ranging from 400-500 square feet using the Vulcan 3D printer for homes, with each home taking around 24 hours spread across several days to complete the full wall system. We have printed three homes at a time, simultaneously, in Austin, TX and two at a time, simultaneously, in Mexico, which further increases the speed in which we can deliver homes.
What controls the Vulcan printer? How many people are needed to 3D print a house?
The ICON team communicates with the printer via an ICON developed app for mobile devices such as a tablet or smartphone.
Past and current projects require around 3-4 people for an average print job including 1-2 on the printer system and 1-2 on the Magma system.
What is the process from start to finish of 3D printing a home?
Once the foundation has been poured and cured, the ICON team affixes two rails to the edge of the foundation. The Vulcan, a mobile, gantry-style 3D printer, arrives and rolls off the truck and onto the slab. The team completes a few software checks, gets the material ready via the Magma material delivery system and then begins to extrude layer by layer to deliver the full wall system of the home. The printer is operated with an ICON developed app for mobile devices such as a tablet or smartphone.
There are others who are working on 3D printing homes. What are the particular strengths of ICON?
ICON's proven 3D printing technology provides safer, more resilient homes that are designed to withstand fire, flood, wind, and other natural disasters better than conventionally built homes and that can be built in a matter of weeks.
Our technology works reliably enough for us to begin taking on numerous customers and projects across social housing, disaster relief housing and mainstream housing developments, in addition to developing construction systems to create infrastructure and habitats on the Moon and eventually Mars with NASA.
We have a conviction about the advantages of “site printing” a house as opposed to printing in a warehouse or printing pieces for assembly later.
We believe the gantry-style architecture of the printer is the fastest, most reliable, and easiest to control approach to 3D printing one and two story buildings.
Our proprietary, advanced material “Lavacrete” has been able to pass every structural test we have put it through so far. This means our homes will be safe for people to live in and resilient to the varieties of conditions where we may deploy this technology.
We have people living in 3D-printed homes by ICON since summer 2020.
What material is used in your 3D-printed homes and structures?
We developed a proprietary formula that is unique for our current and future printing projects that we’ve dubbed “Lavacrete.” Lavacrete is a combination of Portland cement, fillers, and supplementary cementitious materials (SCM’s) along with “advanced additives” intended to help it survive extreme weather.
Why is 3D printing the most appropriate technology for addressing affordability and building performance in construction?
Conventional construction is slow, fragmented, wasteful, and has poor thermal properties which increase energy use, increase operating costs, and decrease comfort. Also, conventional materials like drywall and particle board are some of the least resilient materials ever invented. By contrast, 3D printing offers the following:
Decrease in manual labor
Concrete is a well understood, affordable, resilient material
Concrete has a high thermal mass (comfort & energy efficiency)
3D printing produces a continuous, unbroken thermal envelope (comfort & energy efficiency)
Replaces multiple systems of the home in one technology (foundation, structure, insulation, interior & exterior sheathing, moisture barrier, finished surfaces, etc.)
Near zero waste
Tremendous design freedom (curves and slopes are no more challenging or expensive than straight, plumb lines).
What category of 3D printing are you using? Is this under ICON IP? Or is this a material innovation?
The Vulcan is a gantry-style printer on rails. We have several patents pending in hardware, software, process, and materials.
What distinguishes this printer from other 3D printers?
The ease of operation, the commitment to site-printing, it’s size and speed, the level and sophistication of the automations, and the safety features.
What are the technical specs of the Vulcan?
Total Height: 11.5 feet
Print Height: 8.5 feet
Total Width: 33 feet
Print Width: 28 feet
Length: effectively infinite
Weight: 3800 lbs
Operating Horizontal Speed: 5-7 linear inches per second
Nominal Power: 16 kW
Peak Power: 35kW
Voltage: 230/240 V single phase
Water Requirements: 2 GPM
Software: Tablet-based controls
Size of operating crew: 3-4 people
Printing Material Mixing & Pumping: ICON Magma System
Standard print bead: 1" tall, 2" wide
Required Concrete: ICON Lavacrete (proprietary mixture)
What accolades has ICON received?
TIME Magazine's 'Best Inventions of 2018' and TIME100 Next list featuring Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO
Forbes '30 Under 30' featuring Alex Le Roux, co-founder and CTO
Fast Company ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies' for 2019, 2020, and 2021
Red Dot Design Award 2021
Fast Company 'World Changing Ideas' General Excellence 2020
Fast Company ‘Innovation By Design’ 2019, 2020, 2021
Popular Science 'Best of What's New/Best Innovations of 2018'
MIT's 'Innovators Under 35' featuring Alex Le Roux
Edison Awards finalist for 2019
SXSW Pitch Award - Social Good category 2018
What work is ICON doing for off-world construction?
Since its founding, ICON has been thinking about off-world construction and its natural progression around the ways additive construction and 3D printing can create a better future for humanity.
In October 2020, ICON announced it had been awarded a government Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract including funding from NASA to begin research and development of a space-based construction system that could support future exploration of the Moon. ICON will also dedicated a division of the company to focus on space.
In fall 2020, ICON delivered the world’s first 3D-printed rocket pad designed by students from around the country. NASA and the student team conducted static fire with a rocket motor on the first 3D printed rocket launch pad outside of Austin, TX in March 2021.
Recently, ICON competed 3D printing the first simulated Mars surface habitat for NASA designed by renowned architecture firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. Located at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Mars Dune Alpha will aid in long-duration science missions.
ICON + New Story + ECHALE Unveil First Homes in 3D-Printed Community
Located in Tabasco, Mexico, the homes will be granted to local families currently living in extreme poverty and makeshift, unsafe shelter. The resilient, 500 sq ft homes were each 3D-printed using ICON’s robotics, software and advanced material.
New Story, the nonprofit pioneering solutions to end global homelessness announced that the world’s first 3D-printed community is officially underway and they have revealed the first set of homes in Mexico. The resilient, 500 sq ft homes were each 3D printed in around 24 hours of print time across several days by ICON, a construction technologies company, and feature final construction build out by ÉCHALE, New Story’s nonprofit partner in Mexico.
The built-to-last homes located in Tabasco, Mexico will be granted to local families currently living in extreme poverty and makeshift, unsafe shelter. The community of 3D-printed homes will contain 50 homes in total.
After 18 months in planning, New Story and ICON have completed the first two printed homes in a remote part of Mexico. The 3D printer for homes, called the Vulcan II, is designed to work under the constraints that are common in rural locations, but the journey has not been easy. Power can be unpredictable and local rainfall has often flooded access roads to the construction site. This printer, designed to tackle housing shortages for vulnerable populations, is the first of its kind.
The 3D-printed homes feature two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bath. Co-designed with feedback from the families who will live in them, the homes have been created to meet the specific needs of the community. Resting within a seismic zone, the community and its homes were engineered above the standard safety requirements including robust foundations to ensure the homes will last for generations.
New Story is a nonprofit serving families in need of shelter. Since their founding just five years ago, the team has built more than 2,700 homes, serving over 15,000 people, using traditional construction methods across Haiti, El Salvador, Bolivia, and Mexico. In the last two years, they’ve spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars developing innovative solutions and R&D to help build homes better and faster for the global social housing sector.
The partnership with ICON and use of the 3D printing technology allows New Story to impact more families faster, while simultaneously improving quality and design flexibility. The hope is that this catalytic R&D project will influence the sector as a whole. Through the technology, software, and advanced material, the teams will learn, iterate, and then share the learnings with other nonprofits and governments to help everyone improve and reach families faster.
The families who will live in this community have been preselected and will move in upon community completion. Families are selected based on need; in this community, the median family income per month is $76.50, some of the lowest-income families in Mexico as a whole. When surveyed, 74% of families stated they do not feel safe in their current living conditions and that this greatly affects their quality of life. New Story has partnered with local government officials to survey over 500 families in the area. The families selected for this community are the 50 families with the greatest financial and physical need. The majority of the families in this area are from an indigenous population that has historically been left out of government programs.
Through partnership with the local government, the 3D-printed community is to be part of a larger community plan for the overall municipal area. The families will have access to green spaces, parks, community amenities, and basic utilities through this master plan provided by the local government. Through New Story’s partnership with the local government, families were invited to speak into the master plan for the area.
See the project in action: 3D Printed Homes - Mexico
First 3D printed house erected in Saudi Arabia
Dutch company CyBe Construction has completed another demonstration project, a 3D printed house in Saudi Arabia built using a self-propelled 3D printer. The country's authorities intend to print one and a half million similar buildings.
The first 3D printed residential building in Saudi Arabia was built on the instructions of the National Housing Company (NHC), which issued a contract to the largest construction company in the Middle East Consolidated Contractors Company, which in turn decided to attract a subcontractor in the person of the Dutch company CyBe Construction. The choice is not accidental, since the main task of the project is to evaluate the possibilities of 3D construction printing as an inexpensive and effective solution to the housing crisis, and CyBe owns the original development in the form of a mobile 3D printer on a caterpillar chassis. No, it does not print on the go, but the movable platform facilitates the loading and unloading of equipment, and at the same time allows you to move from place to place and print new products while already grown blocks are drying.
Local authorities have big plans: Saudi Vision 2030 national development strategy takes into account the growing urbanization and the resulting shortage of affordable housing, so that at least one and a half million relatively inexpensive private houses will need to be built in the coming years. By 2020, it is planned to resettle 60% of the population in individual dwellings, and by 2030 to bring this figure to 70%. It is necessary to build quickly and cheaply, and therefore the calculation is made on automation and new technologies, including additive ones.
“Such experiments help keep up with the times. The state needs an incubator of new construction methods based on advanced technologies. The existing construction processes are largely dependent on the human factor, that is, the use of manual labor, which will gradually be replaced by automation. In today's world, the walls and ceilings with all the necessary wiring and pipes will be built by programmers,” said Mohab Mohammed Benten, engineer and representative of the Ministry of Housing of Saudi Arabia, who oversaw the construction of the experimental facility.
It took about a week to 3D print the necessary elements, and a little more than one day to assemble the “box” and landscaping. The area of the two-room building is approximately 80 square meters. The walls are made up of 27 3D printed blocks, and 21 more sections were needed to make the parapets. The house is equipped with all necessary communications and, in principle, is ready for occupancy, although this particular building is not planned to be put into operation - it will serve as a prototype for testing technologies and certification.
Do you have interesting news? Share your developments with us, and we will tell the whole world about them! We are waiting for your ideas at [email protected]
More interesting articles
Subscribe to the author
The name of the new brand will only change one letter from lowercase to uppercase - UltiMaker together with...
Subscribe to the author
Subscribe to the author
Don't want to
The Dutch company Veda 3D offers high-performance extruders VXS-150 compatible with. ..
Subscribe to the author
3D printers, makers and just caring people in Russia connect...
Read article - Construction 3D printing. 8 reasons why she will be an achievement
3D printing has long outgrown its initial capabilities of rapid prototyping and has evolved into a full-fledged manufacturing process known in the industry as additive manufacturing. It is being used to manufacture an ever-wider range of products, from dental implants to jet engine parts. Indeed, it was only a matter of time before she made it to the construction industry.
Simply put, houses built with a 3D construction printer are built by layering the material. The paste-like concrete mix is extruded through the nozzle, creating walls from scratch one layer at a time.
At first glance, this does not seem complicated, but in fact it is not. While the prospects for such a construction process are enormous, it is still in the very early stages of development, but has already shown promising results and has quickly attracted media attention.
The question is, is the hype around 3D construction printing really deserved? In this article, we will delve into this topic and show why we believe 3D printed homes could be the next big thing.
3D printing a house is significantly faster compared to traditional building methods. While the actual timeline is highly dependent on the size of the project, in most cases, construction takes only a few days.
Take, for example, the first fully 3D printed house in America, built by construction company ICON for the nonprofit New Story in 2018. The 33-square-foot house in Texas took about 47 hours of print time to create, spanning several days.
Just two years later, another American company built a huge 177 square meter home in just 8 days, taking just 48 hours of total printing time. However, remember that 3D printers can only create exterior and interior walls.
However, according to SQ4D, the company responsible for the project, this is 40% less compared to conventional building technologies. While this may seem insignificant at first glance, 3D construction printing is still an evolving technology that still has a lot to improve. So, most likely, the construction time will be reduced even more.
At construction sites, 3D printing requires fewer workers than traditional sites as the printing equipment does most of the work.
Traditional construction requires many stages, including a whole team of five to six people who unload, transport and mix materials before laying the structures. Once set up, the concrete 3D printer only needs a few people to monitor and control the process.
For example, for the aforementioned house of 177 sq. meters from SQ4D will require only 3 people on site, which, according to the company, will replace a team of more than 20 unskilled workers. This shows just how well this whole process is automated, and why 3D construction printers are such a promising alternative.
In addition, fewer workers on site also result in fewer work-related injuries and deaths. According to OSHA statistics, construction alone is the cause of death for one in five workers in the US. If done responsibly, 3D printers can help reduce these numbers significantly.
Lower construction cost
It is believed that 3D oven houses are cheaper to build, but this is somewhat debatable as mass building 3D printers are expensive equipment and still have many limitations. But let's stick to facts and figures.
We've already established that 3D printing a home is faster than traditional building, and as they say, time is money. Less time spent on site means both equipment and workers are more quickly available for other projects, theoretically doubling construction volume compared to today.
Add this to the greatly reduced number of workers required. In addition, the raw materials used by some 3D printers can be partially assembled on site, reducing the costs associated with finding, storing, and transporting them to the site.
Now let's get down to the numbers: Apis Cor's 40 sq. m in Russia, according to rumors, cost about $ 10,000, including all windows, roofing, wiring and interior decoration. This is shockingly small. ICON is currently working on 60-square-meter homes that are planned to cost as little as $4,000.
Yes, 3D printing construction equipment is still very expensive, like any other cutting-edge technology, but there is a lot of room for improvement, and as the technology advances, the costs associated with equipment and operation will undoubtedly decrease.
Unique building opportunities
3D printing opens up unique building opportunities that would be either impossible or too expensive to implement with conventional building technologies.
Some say that in order to get the most out of any 3D printing process, the high degree of design freedom afforded by these technologies must be taken into account. This also applies to construction and architecture, where innovation and creativity are especially encouraged.
3D printing allows you to create complex shapes and forms without any extra effort. For example, a concrete 3D printer can create intricately curved walls just as easily as straight ones. Unconventional architecture can improve the appearance of buildings and even optimize interior space.
Take, for example, the "Office of the Future" in Dubai, 3D printed by the Chinese company Winsun, which houses the Dubai Futures Foundation. The curved appearance would require an excessive amount of work to recreate using traditional building techniques.
Engineers can also get creative as the print media can be finely tuned to achieve the best properties. From a finished batch, concrete is already a first-class building material, resistant to most environmental influences such as fire and moisture, as well as an excellent thermal insulator for cold and warm weather.
High performance materials
The 3D printing process is more efficient in terms of energy and material use compared to traditional construction.
3D printers produce less waste because they only use the right amount of material to create designs: there is no waste from cutting or cutting materials. In addition, since concrete-based raw materials are not shaped, any leftovers can and should be used in the next building.
In addition, raw materials can be made from recycled materials. Back in 2014, the Chinese company Winsun was able to build at least 10 houses in one day using only recycled concrete material, while the Italian 3D printing company WASP made a house from natural mud mixed with waste from local rice production, which included crushed straw and rice husks.
3D printers also consume less energy compared to the entire production chain of conventional construction. Consider all the energy needed to transport raw materials and move entire crews of workers daily to the construction site. By reducing labor intensity and sourcing materials in situ, 3D printing can be more sustainable in the long run.
Overall, 3D printers can play a central role in various scenarios around the world. All the key points we've covered so far - reducing time, cost, manpower, expanding unique capabilities and efficiency - show how this technology can be very useful in certain situations.
Developing countries constantly face housing problems. The ability to provide enough quality homes at affordable prices is a key factor in sustainable economic development. The relatively fast process of building 3D printers could potentially solve the problems of the homeless in the short term.
This is exactly what New Story and ICON are trying to achieve in Mexico, in Tabasco. The idea is to create the very first community of 3D printed houses for local families who currently live in extreme poverty. A total of 50 fully 3D printed houses of 50 square meters will be built.
3D printed houses can also be useful in situations of humanitarian crisis, especially after natural disasters when houses are tragically destroyed by earthquakes, fires or tsunamis. Communities affected by such events end up with labor and material shortages, not to mention logistical problems. Restoration with 3D printing could be an effective and cheap solution to at least start rebuilding these communities.
Lastly, 3D printing could also make space exploration like Mars possible. The idea is to send automated 3D printing equipment to the red planet, and since the raw materials could be collected locally, the printers could start building living quarters long before the first humans arrived. No wonder NASA is so interested in this technology.
Industry shift and investment
Construction 3D printing not only attracts the attention of industry leaders and investors, it also attracts their money!
The construction 3D printing market has been growing steadily in recent years. Concrete 3D printer maker COBOD reported earnings in just its second year of operation in 2019, which is a huge achievement for any company and more considering how raw this particular market is still.
After 2020, the coronavirus crisis has affected most industries around the world, and construction 3D printing is no exception. However, it seems to be a suitable solution for such cases, given the reduction in the number of workers on site. For this and other reasons, the global construction 3D printing market is expected to grow from $350M in 2022 to $11B in 2027.
You don't have to take our word for it. Just remember that industry leaders are at the top because they understand the market, while big investors only invest their money in real and really promising technologies. 3D printed houses are the next big thing in technology.
3D printed houses are already a reality and they are rapidly spreading around the world.
While 3D printed houses are often seen in architecture competitions or as concept designs, there are plenty of real-life residential structures that are already in use. Take, for example, the Lewis Grand Hotel in the Philippines with 140 sq. meters, completely made using 3D printing, including bedrooms and living rooms.
Governments are also involved in this. In 2019, Russian company Apis Cor built the largest 3D printed building to date. Two-story building with an area of 640 sq. m is currently home to Dubai Municipality, being the second government building to be 3D printed after the aforementioned Office of the Future.
In Europe, the 3D printed Yhnova House became one of the first residential buildings in the world in 2018 when the Ramdani family moved in. The structure was designed by the University of Nantes using its own proprietary equipment, and the 92 sqm structure was 3D printed. meters took no more than 54 hours.
The next time you hear about 3D printed homes, remember that although it is still an evolving technology, it has shown great results and is already being used around the world.