3D Printed Homes: More Disruption Coming

in LeoFinance2 years ago

This is a market that worthy of a great deal of monitoring. Over the past year, advancement in the technology has really pushed the change to the forefront.

A couple weeks back, I posted an article about how the first 3D printed home was going on sale in Riverhead, New York. This was a house that was put on the market for 50% of similar new construction in the area.

Like any new technology, things simply do not stop. In fact, they keep marching ahead, in a bigger and broader manner.

It seems this is the point that construction is with 3D printing.


From New York we head to San Antonio, Texas.

There we see the first 3D printing house development going in. It is using ICON Vulcan Construction technology to print the homes. This is what was used to print about 50 low cost homes in Mexico.

Unlike the situation in Riverhead, this is an entire development that is going to utilize the technology. Here we see another first.

3Strands is partnering with Austin-based construction technology company ICON to leverage ICON’s proprietary 3D printing construction technology, software, and advanced materials to deliver the two- to four-bedroom homes in Austin.

“We want to change the way we build, own, and how we live in community together,” says Gary O’Dell, 3Strands’ co-founder and CEO. “This project represents a big step forward, pushing the boundaries of new technologies, such as 3D-printed homes.”


While 3Strands did not give any breakdown in terms of speed and pricing, the ICON system is known to be able to reduce costs by about 50%, time near 40%, and use 75% less materials for the base of the structure. These numbers might have changed with this project.

Nevertheless, it does emphasize the advantage of 3D printing when it comes to construction. The three main benefits are:

  • lower cost (mostly in the 50% range)
  • speed
  • drastic reduction in waste

The final one obviously helps the first since reducing waste will help to affect the cost of the structure.

In the United States, the challenge is going to be how to scale up. The home in Riverhead is 1,400 square feet, a rather small home by today's standards. As for the San Antonio development, those are 2 and 4 bedroom homes, yet it is basically the first floor that utilizes the printer. Thus, the advantage is going to only part of the sturcutres.

Nevertheless, much of the world is in need of affordable housing. This actually includes some of the most expensive areas for real estate. For the United States, this tends to be California where housing prices are absurd.

Ironically, what works in California in terms of a housing solution could also apply to India, where they are about 50 million homes short.

Mighty Buildings decided to go small in their question to offer Californians affordable housing. ADUs measuring 350 square feet are 3D printed by this company. The above video shows some of the process as well as a tour of the homes. If the owner wants, two can be coupled to provide more space.

While these are not the biggest structures ever designed, they are comfortable and, I am sure, a lot easier on the wallet than paying for California homes. In some areas, a small, run down structure will run a million dollars.

Of course, to be able to live in these structures, one needs a place to put them. They are small for a reason. California permitted them to go on other people's property (presumably with permission). This way the land is not an issue, another major concern in the crowded areas like San Francisco.

That said, California is just an insane situation for a number of reasons. However, the premise holds strong for other areas of the world.

In many nations, people are still living in the equivalent of a hut. Many of these structures are not safe, especially in areas where earthquakes, hurricanes, and flooding are common. Since they are made out of whatever materials are around, these homes are easily destroyed, devastating to a family.

For this reason, something similar to what Mighty Buildings is constructing is a major step up. The structures are around the size of what people are living in. However, since they are made out of concreate, we see something that is much stronger, fire resistant, and can help to offset some flooding. This is a major step forward.

In India, this is a structure that a company printed out as a model for what they are seeking to utilize as a solution to the housing problem there.

In December 2020, Larsen & Toubro Construction in India 3D-printed a concrete, ground+1, 65-square-meter model residential building at their test facility in Kanchipuram. Larsen & Toubro used COBOD’s robotic 3D construction printers with a concrete mix developed in-house by L&T.

It was, to be clear, only a proof of concept. But the dwelling (pictured above) is also a sign of developments to come.


With this project, there were some challenges along the way but adjustments are being made.

This is not an industry where one simply calls a local construction supply house and orders a 3D printer. All of these companies are designing their own printers. Thus, it is really a bunch of start ups trying to figure out what works best.

The early successes obviously leading to more interest, as is the case with ICON. That will result in more money entering the space, something that will only foster more innovation. Here is how we see things starting to accelerate.

Also, the broad nature of the research and development means we are seeing a grass roots evolution of the technology. It is not the same everywhere, nor does it have to be.

No matter what the approach used, the goal is the same: to build a lot of homes quickly and at a much lower cost than we see today.

Since construction methods date back 100 years, this is an industry that is primed to be disrupted.

What is starting small today could be the common method of construction within 5 years.

Since real estate is a $200 trillion industry globally, we are dealing with a great deal of value.

Once again, progress is taking place right before our eyes.

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Honestly, we have not really had any major shifts in home building for a long time. The majority are still stick built homes, that do not appear to have the longevity of old homes. They are no longer an asset you can pass down 2 or 3 generations without significant renovations costs that typically exceed the value of new construction.

If new houses can be built faster, cheaper, and with better materials that extend the life expectancy while increasing their resiliency against mother nature, it can really help with cost, insurance, loss, etc. I think when we look back in 10-20 years we will be amazed at what we used to do.

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That is why it is ripe for disruption. For the last 100 years, things are still relatively similar. Not much has changed a great deal since that time. Sure some things were changed but the basic structure still uses age of building techniques.

We are about to see that change it appears.

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I love this kind of progress, it can serve as a solution for many countries with housing problems. It is certainly a market worth analyzing, I will be more attentive to these developments. Thank you for sharing it.

If this were so the houses of the poor sectors of Venezuela would live with better quality of life. I hope that a positive impact will be achieved with this technology. I like that there is a lot of savings of resources, money and time.

What I don't yet understand is that if progress has reached so far - why are we still building boxes! Where is our imagination?

Let's make circles, triangles, pentagons and hexagonal boundaried structures with a domed roof or something that works ergonomically with the sun or the wind!

The technology is still new.

When technology is first introduced, people use their existing reference points. Thus, houses were always boxes, lets build automated boxes.

There are a few models out there where the contour changed. In the next 5 years, you will see creativity added to the equation. The first generation is focused upon getting the technology to work properly. That is their major goal now. After that, we will see what you describe.

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I'm one of those crazy people that believe the shape of the structure you live in affects your thinking.

I feel not enough exploration has been done in this regard. We just make boxes because they seem efficient. But are they?

The way oranges are stored in a grocery shop is another form of efficiency.

I lived in an eco village south of London once and everyone built their own homes. Only a couple of us ventured outside of the box.

I made a structure that was pentagonal. It was an exciting project.

ICON system is known to be able to reduce costs by about 50%, time near 40%, and use 75% less materials for the base of the structure.

This is something big. I'm sure with time as they improve their technology, we'd be getting beautiful architectures which otherwise are not possible.

The house which is constructed by the Indian company is an excellent one, considering how the houses are built there. I hope, these houses won't be heavy on the pocket and would be affordable for a common man, because it is normal in India and Pakistan to make a huge profit on new things even if they are supposed to be otherwise.

I would expect, like all things, there will be price leveraging to start. However, a technology like this makes building a commodity. Whenever something goes digital, it is ultimately becomes a commodity. This pushes the value down once competition can get involved inexpensively.

Just look at information and the transfer of that. It is basically a commodity at this time since anyone can create it and send it.

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Actually one of the things in California's market is that housing prices only started to skyrocket more recently. The biggest issue with 3D housing taking off in California is all the environmental groups. I agree that we should keep the environment in mind but most of these lawsuits they file only delay and increase costs.

The cost of building a home in California is purposely due to 1) environmental reports and reviews, 2) lawsuits and 3) finally the cost of the labor. In the case 1, they are required to pay a top level expert to review the plan and ensure there are no adverse impacts. In case 2, they just file lawsuits discrediting case 1 and other issues. In fact these law suits can end up being filed by many groups: environmental groups, competition and labor unions. They are doing so for their own goals. In case 3 the labor of union workers cost far more than non-union workers and sometimes the law suits will be dropped so long as they use union workers.

Just for your knowledge, most of these lawsuits blocking the construction tend to fail but it is very costly. The competition benefits from the profits, environmental groups can brag to their donors and labor unions guarantee work for their memners.

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And those same institutions went up against the automobile industry 30 years ago and failed.

The ADU are already approved in many areas of California and do not require environmental studies since they often end up on occupied land.

At the end of the day, the existing system, all aspects are going to come under attack. Those that adapt and embrace changes will move ahead, those that do not will get left behind.

This includes states.

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It won't stop them from trying. Most of these lawsuits are just for their own gain and doesn't exactly help the housing problem in California. I hope that ADU takes off so they lose their leverage.

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I have seen a lot of animation videos on Facebook like this
I thought this was only 3D effects
But achieving it on the ground would be really astonishing

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Would love too see cheaper housing and less debt because of it, though like I said last time land will remain expensive especially in nice neighborhoods

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I've seen last year an open ceremony of first Czech 3D printed house called Prvok (in English "Eukaryotes").

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What the materials are from? They can be breakthrough in properties in the world. In my area, the flood is common and often soak my house. Does the 3d printed house resistant to water? until now, there are no property developers that advertise such a kind of housing in my country.

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Right now the main material is concrete.

They are probably more resistant than a wood hut. The big thing is they wont get washed away in a flood because they are cement.

The rugs inside might not survive though.

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while growing up i always imagine something very similar to 3D printed homes and i thought that would only continue to happen in my imagination,but guess what??technology have just proven to me that it can make dreams or imaginations to become reality..good to see how technology is changing alot of things....@taskmaster4450le

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This is an excellent proposal, because this way you can use all the wasted plastic to make modern and luxurious houses, and since it is plastic, it will last for thousands of years hahaha.

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I like it. I like it a lot.

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