Housing builder Lennar and construction technology company Icon plan to create a community of 100 3D printed houses near Austin, Texas next year. This is by far the largest development of 3D printed houses in the United States. Icon has built 3D printed houses before. If this project is successful, it will be a strong proof that 3D printing technology can be applied to larger-scale house construction. Icon CEO Jason
Ballard said, “We are building from one or dozens of houses to hundreds of houses.”
Unlike traditional materials such as steel, aluminum and wood, the 3D printing structure is built by machines extruding a cement mixture layer by layer from a nozzle, like a soft swirling ice cream cone. This has the same manufacturing process as the manufacturing of dental implants, aircraft parts and other products, but on a much larger scale.
From past data, Icon’s 3D printed houses are priced slightly lower than the market price. According to the Wall Street Journal, Icon’s previous four-family housing project in the Austin area with builder 3Strands was its first attempt to build a two-story house. The walls on the first floor are 3D printed, while the second floor is constructed in a traditional way. In this project, a two-bedroom house was priced at 450,000 US dollars, and the final sale price was 530,000 US dollars; a four-bedroom 3D printed house sold for nearly 800,000 US dollars. The prices of these houses are slightly lower than similar houses in the area. In this cooperation project with Lennar, Lennar has not yet determined how the houses in the new community will be priced, but they may be similar to other Lennar-built houses in the area.
Currently, the US real estate market is one of the industries most affected by supply chain troubles and insufficient inventory. Affected by the supply chain interruption caused by the epidemic, insufficient inventory of construction materials such as wood and cement, and the blue-collar workers with unemployment subsidies unwilling to return to the labor market, these have hindered the construction of housing projects in the United States, lengthened the construction cycle, and increased Construction costs, thereby affecting housing supply and affordability. 3D printed houses have the potential to solve some of the problems in the US real estate market because it provides a cheaper and more effective way to provide housing for those who need them.
According to Axios citing Guidehouse Industries market researchers, after years of research and development, the 3D printing market is approaching a tipping point. Taking into account the current shrinking construction profits and labor shortages, 3D printing is likely to revolutionize the construction industry. Analysts also acknowledged that 3D printing buildings will take years to be widely adopted.