Has 3D printing gone far enough to produce a neighborhood?

3D printing has taken root in the construction industry, providing an innovative solution to the challenges facing the sector. Today, Lennar Homes, the homebuilding giant, announced plans that will take technology to the level of city planning by announcing impending development of an entire neighborhood in Austin, Texas.

3D printed house. Image Credit: Matjazz / Shutterstock.com

The advantages of 3D house printing

Although the technology is relatively new, progress has been made in realizing its potential in recent years. Building a house with 3D printing technology has several advantages over traditional building methods.

3D printing is faster than traditional methods, with the ability to build small structures in less than 24 hours. Houses built with technology are cheaper than conventional structures. Plus, the design process is more versatile, potentially allowing homeowners to customize the shape of their home without the need for an architect.

More importantly, the process is sustainable, using fewer materials and resources, with a shorter supply chain and reduced waste produced.

3D printing has proven to be a revolutionary technology in the construction industry, but until now its scope has been limited to individual structures and experimental projects. The use of 3D home printing is about to take a big step forward, with construction of the first fully 3D printed neighborhood starting in early 2022.

3D printing of entire neighborhoods – The future of town planning?

The project, a collaboration between Lennar Homes, BIG Architects and ICON, will provide 100 homes in a one-of-a-kind neighborhood in Austin, Texas. Lennar has invested heavily in ICON’s 3D printing technologies and expertise to achieve the goal of building sustainable homes at a significantly lower cost in less time than traditional construction methods.

Currently, there is a deficit of 5 million homes in the United States that urgently needs to be addressed. With this revolutionary project, companies hope to do just that. Critical properties can be printed on a large scale and faster than ever before.

The key ICON technology used in the project is the Vulcan robotic printer. This equipment is 46 feet wide and can construct buildings up to 3000 square feet from Lavacrete, an advanced concrete material. Properties built with this system comply with international standards and building codes.

3D structures printed with the system are expected to last as long or longer than traditional alternatives. Using advanced materials and design, ICON’s system builds structures more resistant to extreme weather events caused by global warming. Since the cost of construction is so cheap, it means that neighborhood properties will have a significant return on their investment in the future.

ICON 3D printing for homeless people in Austin

Video credit: ICON / Youtube.com

With less waste and a degree of design freedom not possible with traditional design and construction techniques, ICON’s 3D printing technology can deliver homes on time and on budget. The system is designed to build from scratch, saving on materials and labor, two of the central costs of construction projects around the world.

Homes built with the 3D design and manufacturing process will be energy efficient and ready to meet the needs of future homeowners.

What will the houses look like?

Austin’s new 3D printed neighborhood will feature homes that both look good and take advantage of innovative technology. The project will build contemporary homes that have their own unique spatial dimensions, adding a touch of individuality to each.

Neighborhood properties are envisioned to modernize the aesthetic appeal of traditional suburban homes, with distinctive touch points designed by the Vulcan system. The houses will be both physically and aesthetically unique, with overall freedom in their form.

The 3D printed houses will also have photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof, further enhancing the sustainability of this project. The properties in this innovative neighborhood have been designed with the challenges of the modern world in mind, while being affordable and of high quality.

What this project means for the future

The construction industry today faces a multitude of challenges. Critical housing shortages, the impact of fossil fuel-intensive manufacturing processes, labor costs, and the transition to a sustainable future for industry all require innovative approaches to overcome. 3D printing houses, while still a new idea, have the potential to solve these key issues.

Lennar, ICON and BIG’s plan to 3D print an entire neighborhood is innovative and represents the next step in the adoption of 3D printing by the construction industry. Indeed, this project could very well pave the way for the future of the entire industry, as companies turn to bold solutions that take advantage of the latest technologies and new ways of thinking.

Further reading

Engelfield, J (2021) BIG and ICON to Create World’s ‘Biggest Neighborhood’ of 3D Printed Homes [online] deezen.com. Available at:

https://www.dezeen.com/2021/11/01/icon-and-big-worlds-largest-neighbourhood-3d-printed-homes/

Hunter, B (2021) Lennar Homes plans to build a neighborhood of 3D printed homes in Austin [online] Forbes.com. Available at:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradhunter/2021/10/26/lennar-homes-plans-to-build-a-neighbourhood-of-3-d-printed-homes-in-austin

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are those of the author, expressed in a private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T / A AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer is part of the terms and conditions of use of this website.

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