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Natural Awakenings Boston

Instant Home: 3D-Printed Buildings on the Rise

IconBuild.com

ICON, an Austin-based startup, built the first permitted 3D-printed house in the U.S. in its hometown in 2018. Since then, the company has built a small neighborhood in Mexico and launched its Vulcan II printer, which can produce houses measuring up to 2,000 square feet. San Francisco-based Apis Cor is another company in the 3D-printing space: It has just completed a two-story, 6,900-square-foot building in Dubai and it plans to build a demonstration house in Santa Barbara, California, this year. Another tech startup, Haus.me, has opened an assembly plant in Reno, where it plans to ship its first off-the-grid models to buyers in Nevada, California and Arizona. In the Netherlands, a consortium of companies has set up a factory with 3D-printing machines that use concrete; it plans to supply materials for five homes to be built in the city of Eindhoven. The upside of using 3D-printing techniques for building houses include lower cost, less waste and reduced construction time—six weeks versus six months. Current barriers include a lack of regulation and building codes, and a limit on the types of materials that can be used. The process is limited largely to plastics and concrete, and homes requiring wood or steel still need to use traditional methods.