One of the world’s largest neighborhoods of 3D printed homes is set to lead the way in Texas next year.
Austin-based construction technology company ICON said it was working with Miami-based home builder Lennar to build 100 homes in the Austin area.
The project, slated for launch in 2022, will feature one-story homes with varied floor plans designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group.
According to Melodie Yashar, Director of Building Design and Performance at ICON, each home’s wall system will be constructed using the company’s proprietary cement-based material called “Lavacrete”. The material is stronger and more durable than traditional building materials, and it helps homes withstand extreme weather conditions.
After the first floor walls are printed using ICON’s Vulcan building system, the roofs are added and the builders in Lennar finish the houses using traditional building methods. The roof of each house will be equipped with solar panels.
The building system can create homes and structures up to 3,000 square feet that are built to the structural code standard of the International Building Code and are expected to last as long or longer than standard homes built in unit masonry in concrete, ICON representatives said.
“Additive manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize the built environment as it is adopted by industry on a large scale,” said Martin Voelkle, partner of the Bjarke Ingels group. “By partnering with ICON and Lennar, we are able to see this new technology unfold to the widest possible audience. 3D printed architecture and photovoltaic roofs are innovations that are important steps towards reducing waste in the construction process, as well as towards making our homes more resilient, sustainable and self-sufficient in energy.
Construction using the Vulcan system is expected to take about a week to 3D print the walls of each house, and ICON plans to have a fleet of five printers for the community of 100 homes by 2022, Yashar said.
According to ICON representatives, 3D printing technology produces energy-efficient homes faster than conventional construction methods with less waste and more design freedom, allowing projects to stay on schedule and on budget.
LENx, a branch of Lennar that works to disrupt the residential construction industry through innovation, designed and engineered for fast and accurate 3D printing of many homes.
“Labor and material shortages are two of the main factors that make the dream of home ownership beyond the reach of many American families,” said Eric Feder, president of LENx. “Lennar has always pushed the boundaries of technological innovation to maintain affordable quality homes and 3D printing is an extremely encouraging approach. We are excited to work with ICON to develop solutions to emerging challenges in the years to come. “
According to ICON representatives, the district will be the largest of its kind in the world.
“ICON exists as a response to the global housing crisis and to put our technology to work for the world,” said Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of ICON. “Construction-scale 3D printing not only provides better homes faster and more affordably, but printer fleets can change the way entire communities are built for the better. The United States faces a deficit of around 5 million new homes, so there is a deep need to quickly increase supply without compromising on quality, beauty or sustainability and that is exactly the strength of our technology. “
Prices and move-in dates will be available in 2022.
This isn’t the first time 3D printed buildings have made headlines in Texas. Earlier this year, the Texas Military Department unveiled a similar 3D printed structure at Bastrop.
The military barracks at Camp Swift Training Center are over 3,800 square feet and are used to train up to 72 soldiers and airmen.
“Texas has become a technological center of gravity within the nation,” said Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, Texas adjutant general. “TMD is proud to be an intermediary for the introduction of these innovative solutions into the military community. “
The Texas Military Department has partnered with ICON and Logan Architecture to 3D print the barracks.
ICON also built a multi-unit project in East Austin with developer 3Strands, marking the first 3D printed homes for sale in America.
The company prototyped structures with the Defense Innovation Unit and the United States Marine Corps, 3D printed a 500 square foot community of homes in Tabasco, Mexico for local families living in extreme poverty, and built the Chicon House, the first authorized 3D house. printed at home in the United States.
Other developers across the country are working on similar projects. Several of these 3D printed net zero energy neighborhoods are being built in Southern California by Palari Group, a Beverly Hills-based sustainable real estate developer.
Palari Group is building 15 eco-friendly 3D printed homes on a five-acre plot of land in Rancho Mirage, an upscale Coachella Valley community. The developer is also building 77 eco-homes on a 23-acre plot of land in Desert Hot Springs, near Palm Springs.
According to the Palari Group website, the California developer is also planning to build 3D printed neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley, Central Coast and Napa Valley.
As for ICON, the construction company aims to use its 3D printing technology well beyond the state of Texas.
The company has already started what it calls a “construction out of the world”. ICON has 3D printed a prototype rocket landing pad for NASA as well as surface habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space Center to prepare for long-duration missions to Mars.
The company’s current program with the Bjarke Ingels Group and NASA, called Project Olympus, aims to develop a stand-alone additive building system for further exploration of the Moon and imagine humanity’s first home on another world, said ICON.