Could 3D Printed Homes be the solution to the housing shortage?

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Posted: May 2, 2022

Home » Could 3D Printed Homes be the solution to the housing shortage?

Scheduled to break ground in Austin later this year, a collaborative effort of Lennar (one of the nation’s leading homebuilders) and ICON (an Austin-based construction technologies company) will become the largest community of 3D-printed homes to date. The 100-home community will be codesigned by acclaimed architecture firm, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. The relationship between Lennar and ICON began with Lennar’s investment in Austin-based ICON’s recent $207-million financing round and offers a promising path toward delivering affordable, technology-driven homes that meet rising demand. 

ICON’s 3D printing technology produces resilient, energy-efficient homes faster than conventional construction methods with less waste and more design freedom – keeping construction projects on schedule and on budget. Designed and engineered from the ground up for volume 3D printing of homes with precision and speed, their Vulcan construction system can deliver homes and structures up to 3,000 square feet that are built to the International Building Code (IBC) structural code standard and expected to last as long or longer than standard concrete masonry unit (CMU) built homes. And they maintain that their proprietary wall system and advanced materials are stronger and longer lasting than traditional building materials and provide safer, more resilient homes that are designed to withstand extreme weather, greatly reduce the impact of natural disasters, and be printed at high speeds and at scale.

“ICON exists as a response to the global housing crisis and to put our technology in service to the world,” said co-founder and CEO Jason Ballard. “Construction-scale 3D printing not only delivers higher-quality homes faster and more affordably, but fleets of printers can change the way that entire communities are built for the better. The United States faces a deficit of approximately 5 million new homes, so there is a profound need to swiftly increase supply without compromising quality, beauty, or sustainability and that is exactly the strength of our technology. It is an honor and a huge milestone for (us) to partner with Lennar, an elite top-tier homebuilder with a commitment to innovation.  We believe this will be a watershed moment in the history of community-scale development and the future breaking into the present.”

“Additive manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize the built environment as it gets adopted by the industry at scale,” said Martin Voelkle, a partner in the BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. “By partnering with ICON and Lennar, we are able to see this new technology roll out to the widest possible audience. The 3D-printed architecture and the photovoltaic roofs are innovations that are significant steps towards reducing waste in the construction process, as well as towards making our homes more resilient, sustainable, and energy self-sufficient.”

Lennar’s investment in ICON’s Series B financing round in August was facilitated by LENX, which drives a focused strategy within Lennar to integrate technology solutions across the homebuilding industry. With a clearly defined strategy of investing in technology companies directly adjacent to Lennar’s core homebuilding operations and a disciplined investment process, LENX provides hands-on mentorship and guidance from senior leaders of Lennar’s management team and a marquee opportunity to provide products and technology to Lennar customers, allowing portfolio companies to scale at an unprecedented pace. “Labor and material shortages are two of the biggest factors pushing the dream of home ownership out of reach for many American families,” said Eric Feder, President of LENX. “Lennar has always expanded the boundaries of technological innovation to keep quality homes affordable and 3D printing is an immensely encouraging approach. We are excited to collaborate with ICON to develop solutions to emerging challenges in the coming years.”

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