Texas startups are using 3D printing technology to increase housing supply and combat the effects of climate change.


The U.S. housing market has been facing two major challenges – chronic inventory shortages and an increase in destructive natural disasters due to climate change. However, two Texas startups have come up with an innovative solution that could address both issues. Hive3D and Icon are using 3D printing technology to build homes in Central Texas, as reported by the Texas Tribune.

Hive3D, a Houston-based company, has already constructed six homes using 3D printing technology. CEO Timothy Lankau believes that the housing inventory crunch should never have happened in the first place. Lankau stated, “There’s something of a housing crisis in America, which I think is the stupidest crisis I can possibly imagine. With all of the ingenuity and resources we have, as a people, the fact that we can’t figure out a better way to build walls and roofs so that everyone has a nice house seems just baffling to me.”

Although 3D-printed homes are still a relatively new concept, progress has been made in recent years. In 2017, the first 3D-printed home was built in Russia. The following year, Icon debuted its own 3D printing technology for homes at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. Icon is currently working on building an entire subdivision of homes in the Austin area using their 3D printing technology. Tom vonReichbauer, CFO of Icon, explained the motivation behind their efforts, stating, “We ultimately needed to find ways to build a lot more homes a lot faster. And we landed on 3D printing, using concrete-like material. Advanced robotic construction is the most promising path forward.”

According to Nikko Industries, a 3D printing marketplace, it takes around 24 hours to construct the 3D-printed walls of a small home. Larger homes can take anywhere from 10 to 45 days, depending on their size. In comparison, building a single-family home using traditional methods can take six to eight months, as reported by eXp Realty.

Both Hive3D and Icon have adopted alternative methods for building their 3D homes, including the use of “green cement” made from fly ash, a common byproduct of coal-fired power plants. Traditional concrete is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for an estimated 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal.

Although the sale prices for the homes in the Austin subdivision are slightly higher than average, they come with the support of the community. According to vonReichbauer, the homes are listed for approximately $470,000 to $579,000, while the average cost of a home in Georgetown is $459,932.

By utilizing 3D printing technology and alternative building materials, Hive3D and Icon hope to make a positive impact on the U.S. housing market. These innovative solutions not only address the inventory shortages but also contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The success of these Texas startups could pave the way for a revolution in the construction industry and provide more affordable and sustainable housing options for Americans.

Original source


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