The Future is Here: 3D Concrete Home Printing

Home buying is exhausting and expensive. Determining a location to move to with a great school district while choosing a home that fits all your needs and desires is quite an undertaking. Tiny homes are popping up everywhere. Because they cost significantly less than a traditional home, they are a great option for everyone looking to happily live in less.

Tiny House Popularity 

There are several reasons smaller homes are so popular. The top reason for choosing a tiny house is the cost savings it provides. Not only is it cheaper to buy or build, up to 80% less than a normal sized home, but it’s also a constant money saver for your energy bill, water bill, etc. Smaller homes have less area to cool or heat, require less lighting, and have fewer faucets and bathrooms to use less water. All these savings will compound year after year. Because you’ll need a smaller lot, taxes will be less as well.

We can’t forget to mention the Marie Kondo phenomenon, the KonMari method, which is a simplistic way of living with only the items that bring you joy. This minimalistic lifestyle pairs perfectly with living in a smaller home because there is less room for the clutter to accumulate. Less clutter is proven to lead to a cleaner, happier, and stress-free life. 

Many people assume a smaller home means less charm, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Having less space to decorate actually may mean your smaller home will be more charming, as you can customize your space with less. The aesthetic you desire can be achieved with less money, less time, and more unity.

Concrete Printing 

3D printing isn’t a new innovation, it’s a technique created in the mid-1980s. But just like every modern technology, innovators have revolutionized the printing technology to include many different materials in the 3D printing process. We’re particularly fond of 3D printing with concrete. 

The scale of concrete printing has grown to include tiny homes. An Austin, Texas startup is looking to mass produce small homes using concrete printing technology. One of their missions is to help create a solution to the issue of unaffordable housing throughout the world. World Resources Institute estimates that 1.2 billion people live without adequate housing. This company, ICON, claims they can produce homes in as little as 12 to 24 hours. If they’re successful, this process would help create a sustainable and quality home for those in need. With a day and $10,000, although they are working to drop that price to $4,000, ICON can print you a 650 square foot home made of cement. This cement is a custom blend of concrete that hardens as it’s printed to ensure stability and longevity for the structure. It’s said that after hardening, this blend is stronger than cinder blocks which makes it both affordable and durable. 

How They Do It

The 3D Vulcan printer is massive but still portable which allows these homes to be printed on site. ICON focuses on 3 aspects of their printing, robotics, software, and advanced materials. This ensures they combine all three seamlessly to provide the best way to precisely deposit concrete with a simple tablet-based interface using programmable cement-based mixes designed to be placed perfectly and bonded before the next layer is added.

The Vulcan II is their first commercially available construction printer with capabilities of approximately 2,000 square feet. It can be transported fully assembled in the ICON custom trailer to any site. It can print up to 8.5 feet high and up to 28 feet wide and can be installed and operated by a crew of 4 to 6 people. And of course, it comes with the use of an integrated tablet-based operating system to control the entire printing process with a simple, intuitive interface.

Lavacrete

This closely kept secret formula is the only approved material for the ICON Vulcan printers. It allows the structures to be printed quickly, durably, and affordably. This enables time and cost schedules to be kept for construction projects while still providing more protection than many other traditional building materials. Lavacrete is able to withstand extreme weather conditions, which minimizes damage from natural disasters such as fires, hurricanes, and tornados. Frankly, the Lavacrete replaces traditional cladding, framing, and sheetrock providing a higher quality structure and reducing costs significantly. Each Lavacrete blend is specifically created based on the climate and location of the structure to ensure an optimal outcome for each unique location. Due to the natural high thermal mass of concrete, both heat and A/C will be used more efficiently lowering yet another cost.

ICON’s Passion 

The developers of ICON have pinpointed three areas of critical importance they seek to remedy with their 3D homes: The availability of homes is severely lacking, the average person cannot afford traditional homes, and traditional homebuilding is not sustainable and greatly inefficient. The Vulcan printers can help eradicate these three problems by providing affordable, sustainable, durable, and widely accessible housing anywhere in the world. They seek to change the way homebuilding and home buying have been since the Middle Ages with a futuristic approach that meets current needs and helps prevent future problems.

3D concrete home printing is yet another amazing innovation in the concrete industry. It’s important to seize technological advances to make the best use of time, budgets, and materials to help provide affordable and reliable housing for those all around the world. At Royal Concrete, we are immensely proud of the hard work that has been put into creating the ICON company and their Vulcan printers. We look forward to the impact this innovation has on those in need of suitable housing and how it can build a better system for all.