Lennar Corp. and construction-technology firm Icon are poised to start building next year at a site in the Austin metro area, the companies said. While Icon and others have built 3-D printed housing before, this effort will test the technology’s ability to churn out homes and generate buyer demand on a much larger scale.
“Skilled tradesmen are a dying breed,” said Eric Feder, president of LenX, Lennar’s venture-capital and innovation unit. “So there have to be alternative building solutions to help with this labor deficit.”
The vast majority of newly built single-family homes in the U.S. are constructed on-site and framed in wood using traditional construction methods.
Icon’s 3-D printed houses use concrete framing instead. Its 15.5-foot-tall printers can build the exterior and interior wall system for a 2,000-square-foot, one-story house in a week, said Jason Ballard, Icon’s chief executive. The printer squeezes out concrete in layers, like toothpaste out of a tube. The machines can print curved walls, allowing for more creative house designs, he added.
Labor and Time
It takes a week to frame a standard house and a week to frame a 3-D house as well.
However, a standard house takes 6-12 framers and drywall workers and the 3-D house only 3.
The 3-D printing concrete can leave ridges due to layering. And you better get the layout right because it will not be so easy to knock out a wall and make a larger room where two rooms once were.
On the other side of the ledger, concrete will not rot or get chewed up by termites. And concrete is more weather resistant, wind resistant, and fire resistant.
A 100 home subdivision is nothing, but you have to start somewhere.
It will be interesting to see where this process goes.
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