When it showed off its 3D-printed homes at the South by Southwest festival back in 2018, Austin-based construction technology company ICON told The Verge its Vulcan printer could create an 800-square-foot structure for about $10,000. It seemed like only a matter of time before higher-end 3D-printed homes became a reality.
Now, a new development in East Austin is selling four houses built using ICON’s technology, starting at $450,000 (roughly the median home price in Austin at present). To be clear, ICON 3D-printed the first floor of each of the two- to four-bedroom homes in the new East 17th Street Residences development; the upper floors were built using conventional construction. They’ll be ready for move-in this summer.
Watching the gigantic printer spit out what turns into a house is pretty mesmerizing.
The houses were designed by Austin-based firm Logan Architecture, and the developer on the project is 3Strands of Kansas City. “We want to change the way we build, own and how we live in community together,” 3Strands CEO Gary O’Dell said in a statement. “This project represents a big step forward, pushing the boundaries of new technologies.”
Each of the houses took between five and seven days of printing time, and they’re between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet. The material used in the 3D-printing process is “a proprietary cementitious material called Lavacrete,” according to ICON, which it says is more durable than traditional construction materials.
So far, ICON has printed two dozen houses and structures across the US and Mexico, most of which are inhabited, including seven houses the company 3D-printed last year to house homeless people at Community First Village in Austin.
Although it’s touting the East 17th Street houses as the first 3D-printed homes for sale, The Architect’s Newspaper notes that ICON may not be the first to produce 3D-printed homes for the commercial real estate market. Long Island-based SQ4D claimed last month that it had the first “permitted” 3D-printed house in the US, a single-family residence in Riverhead, New York, listed at $300,000.
In addition to building its 3D-printed structures on planet Earth, ICON is working with NASA on research and development of a space-based construction system, with the ultimate goal of putting buildings on the Moon and Mars.