NW REporter

3D-printed homes being built in pioneering response to housing crisis

Tech and tradition come together to create a pioneering community of 3D-printed homes near Austin, Texas. In an announcement, Lennar Corporation and ICON Technology revealed the 100-home project is situated in the Wolf Range master-planned community in Georgetown, about 30 miles north of Austin.

Construction is underway at the community, which is co-designed by renowned architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group, a Danish firm often referred to as BIG.

In a November 10 statement, representatives of the collaborative venture said the project’s high-performance homes will be “technologically advanced, environmentally sustainable and architecturally striking.”  

The revolutionary development combines precise construction using innovative robotics, software and advanced materials.  Eight floorplans in 24 configurations range in size from 1,574 to 2,221 square feet. Homes will have three or four bedrooms and two to three baths and be powered by the sun with rooftop solar panels. Prices are expected to start from the mid-$400,000s.

ICON’s specially formulated cement forms walls are engineered to be resistant to water, mold, termites, and fire damage. The wall system currently exceeds building code design requirements by over 350%, according to ICON.

The printed walls also promise superior insulation compared to conventional construction. The walls provide both sound-deadening advantages and fewer temperature fluctuations during extreme weather. Walls can be printed in various shapes, patterns, and textures.

Proponents of 3D-printed construction tout not only the material’s strength and durability, but also significantly less waste. ICON said construction waste from each conventionally-built home in America averages 4 tons (per home).

Based in Austin, Icon was founded in 2018 in response to the global housing crisis. The company uses its own Vulcan printer technology for a variety of projects, working with nonprofit partners, the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA. Each of its four printers is capable of printing a house a day, but the company said its existing fleet is already booked for the next few years.

Lennar’s history dates to 1954. As one of the nation’s leading home construction companies its product mix includes affordable, move-up and active adult homes. Lennar’s Multifamily segment develops high-quality multifamily rental properties. In 2021, it was ranked second largest homebuilder in the U.S. based on number of homes built.