View inside the United States’ only sizable 3D-printed housing development.

In the first significant on-site 3D-printed housing development, large machines are squeezing out 100 three- and four-bedroom homes just outside Austin, Texas.

The project is being developed in collaboration with ICON, a 3D printing business, by Lennar, one of the biggest homebuilders in the country.

ICON co-founder Jason Ballard stated that “the promise of robotic construction is a promise of automation, reducing labour – therefore reducing labour costs.”

It resembles a NASA project more than a building site for a house.

In the first significant on-site 3D-printed housing development, large machines are squeezing out 100 three- and four-bedroom homes just outside Austin, Texas.

The project is being developed in collaboration with ICON, a 3D printing business, by Lennar, one of the biggest homebuilders in the country. Lennar invested in ICON early on. ICON has produced only a handful of homes in Texas and Mexico. In 2023, these houses will be put up for sale, with prices starting in the mid-$400,000 range.

According to Stuart Miller, executive chairman of Lennar, “These are the first 100 homes, but we expect to be able to bring this to scale, and at scale, we really bring cycle times down, as well as cost down.”

ICON asserts that it can construct the home’s entire wall system—including the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems—two to three times faster and for up to 30% less money than a conventional home.

“We are approximately 4 times stronger than what is required by code for all types of strength, including wind and compressive strength. According to Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of ICON, “We’re about two and a half times more energy efficient.

The printers are intended to run continuously, but due to noise restrictions in the area, they don’t. There are only three workers per home, and they are almost entirely automated. One checks the concrete mixture, which needs to be adjusted for the current weather, while another monitors the process on a laptop. Another person assists by adding fresh material to the system or misting the area with water.

Robotic construction holds the promise of automation, which will decrease labour and consequently labour costs, according to Ballard.

Over the following 12 months, ICON wants to reduce the number of operators to two, Ballard added. His ultimate goal is to have even fewer operators. The “Holy Grail,” according to Ballard, is the ability of one person to watch a dozen different systems simultaneously.

A digital floor plan is loaded into the Build OS software system, which then gets it ready for robotic construction. While printing, it will automatically map out the structural reinforcement and place the plumbing and electrical outlets. Then, slowly building up the structure, the printers squirt out rows and rows of a proprietary concrete mixture that resembles toothpaste.

Other businesses, such as Mighty Buildings in California, use 3D printing technology as well, but their homes are printed in a factory and then transported to the site. The factory is brought to the area by ICON.

With this project, we will increase the number of houses by 400%, and we anticipate that this increase will continue for the next three to five years, at least doubling. He declared that he already has plans to collaborate with other substantial builders. Another early investor in ICON is DR Horton.

Lennar’s Miller stated that his main goal is to increase the supply of affordable homes on the market and that this is one way to achieve that goal. But he is aware that it is still in its infancy.

Innovation is the key to all of this. The number one concern when talking to local and state government representatives across the nation is how to provide workforce housing that is also affordable, he said.

Lennar and ICON started working on the project’s plans when the housing market was still booming due to high demand and historically low mortgage rates. Given that mortgage rates have increased significantly since the beginning of the year and that demand has dropped significantly, there may be an increased risk associated with this project.

According to Miller, “We still concentrate on our core business, ensuring that the trains run on time, and building homes across the nation, and as the market cycles up and down, we adjust our business.” “We know there will be a housing shortage in the future, so innovation is a cycle that sits on the side of our business.”

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