What is the latest with ICON?
ICON unveiled its “Vulcan II” 3D printer for homes on March 11, 2019 and announced it will begin shipping the award-winning technology next month to a small group of early customers as well as actively accepting orders for 2020.
ICON also announced multiple partnerships with nonprofits, developers, architects, and financial services.
“Vulcan II is ready to move out of ICON’s lab and into the world next month to begin its very important work of delivering affordable, resilient, dignified housing around the world. Vulcan II is the first printer of its kind in that it has the capability of printing homes in which people actually want to live. It can be operated by anyone with basic training thanks to the improvements in automation, mechatronics and a suite of specialized software.
How long has the Vulcan II been in development?
The ICON team began research and development immediately following the completion of our first prototype home printed in March 2018. The work shifted into high gear about six months ago after we completed a seed round of financing.
What features does the Vulcan II have in comparison to the Vulcan I?
Tablet-based controls, advanced UI, 4x larger print area, 2.5x faster, automated material mixing, pumping, and delivery, safety features, remote monitoring, and on-board lighting for printing at night or in low-light conditions,
When will the Vulcan II be available to anyone interested?
We are actively accepting requests for 2020. More info
Where will you begin printing?
We will be printing homes for a variety of partners in 2019 and we’re excited to break ground in both Latin America and in the US.
What sets ICON apart from others working on the same problems?
- We’ve successfully pulled a building permit and printed a house in one of the world’s major metro areas
- Our technology works reliably enough for us to begin taking on customers and projects.
- We have a conviction about the advantages of “site printing” a whole house as opposed to printing in a warehouse or printing pieces for assembly later.
- We believe the gantry-style architecture of printer is the fastest, most reliable, and easiest to control approach to 3D printing one and two story buildings.
- Our proprietary concrete/mortar material “Lavacrete” has been able to pass every structural test we have put it through so far which means our homes will be safe for people to live in a resilient to the varieties of conditions we may deploy this technology.
Where can I see photos, videos and renders?
The ICON press kit can be found HERE.
What is ICON?
ICON is an Austin-based construction technologies company dedicated to revolutionizing homebuilding and making dignified housing the standard for people throughout the world. Using proprietary 3D printing robotics, software and advanced materials, ICON is solving a plurality of problems in the contemporary building industry with their breakthrough technologies. ICON closed a $9M seed round led by Oakhouse Partners in October 2018 and will begin printing homes around the world in 2019.
How much did it cost to 3D print the home that was printed in Austin as a prototype?
The first permitted, 3D printed house cost around $10,000 to create (printed portion only). The 350 square foot home is in Austin, TX. The home serves as proof-of-concept and was created in partnership with the non-profit, New Story. New Story and ICON will break ground on their first 3D printed community in 2019 in Latin America.
How long will it take to 3D print a home using ICON’s technology?
Our mission is to print homes in less than 24 hours! Small homes can already be printed in under 24 hours, and larger homes in the 2,000 square foot size range could be printed (on average) in less than 72 hours (three days).
When can I have one?
We’re glad you’re interested in the future of homebuilding and considering a 3D-printed home. We are working as hard as we can to make more printers as fast as we can. Please go HERE so that we can keep track of your interest and we’ll let you know as soon as ICON’s suite of technology is available in your area.
How long have you been working on this project?
We were tinkering for 2-3 years before we formed our company, and then we were actively in stealth mode for about a year creating the Vulcan printer, which we unveiled in March 2018. Vulcan II was unveiled March 2019.
Tell us about the origins of ICON and your mission.
The three founders each started working on it independently about two years ago. Jason has spent the last decade+ of his life starting and growing a company called TreeHouse whose whole mission revolves around sustainability and health in the built environment. After working on literally thousands of homes, Jason began saying to himself, "Surely there is a better way to build homes that is more affordable, less wasteful, and more energy efficient than conventional building methods." Approaches to construction hadn't changed in so long it was like people had forgotten how to even imagine a different way. That began a months-long study and research project (including prefab, insulated concrete forms, SIP panels, advanced framing, robotic bricklaying, architectural fungus, etc.) that landed Jason on 3D printing as the most promising technology to create a true revolution that checked all the boxes he cared about. He re-connected with his TreeHouse co-founder and friend Evan Loomis and the two decided to start working on it and build a prototype in a warehouse in Austin on the weekends. Meanwhile, a fresh college-grad and engineer named Alex LeRoux was working on a similar project in Houston. His prototype was actually able to print a mortar-based tiny home. Eventually, after hearing rumors of each other for months, Alex and Jason met and decided to start working together.
Fast forward to today... ICON is a for-profit construction technologies company using robotics, software, and advanced materials to reinvent the homebuilding industry. We unveiled our first 3D printer and successfully pulled a building permit and printed a home in Austin in 2018. In March 2019 we unveiled the Vulcan II printer and began shipping the technology for projects in the U.S. and internationally.
Has ICON received any funding?
Yes, ICON secured $9M in a seed round in October 2018 led by Oakhouse Partners.
Is the first printed home by ICON a permanent structure?
Yes. The first 3D-printed home in Austin, TX was printed all on-site and is a permitted, permanent structure.
For the most recent building in Austin, weren’t there challenges meeting housing codes?
Beyond torrential downpours in Austin over the printing time period, the challenges of 3D printing a home that is the first to be permitted in the U.S. included mostly structural engineering and foundation adjustments as the city had never seen a building of its kind.
Are the roof, windows and other finishes done conventionally or also 3D printed?
The ICON team printed the full home using the Vulcan 3D printer and once completed, our partners at Alchemy Builders constructed the finishing touches including the roof, windows, doors and electrical/plumbing with conventional methods.
What category of 3D printing are you using? Is this under ICON IP? Or is this a material innovation?
The Vulcan II is a gantry-style printer on rails. We have several patents pending in hardware, software, process, and materials.
Why is 3D printing the most appropriate technology for addressing affordability and building performance in construction?
Conventional construction is slow, fragmented, wasteful, and has poor thermal properties which increase energy use, increase operating costs, and decrease comfort. Also, conventional materials like drywall and particle board are some of the least resilient materials ever invented. By contrast, 3D printing offers the following:
- Lack of manual labor
- Concrete is a well understood, affordable, resilient material
- Concrete has a high thermal mass (comfort & energy efficiency)
- 3D Printing produces a continuous, unbroken thermal envelope (comfort & energy efficiency)
- Replaces multiple systems of the home in one technology (foundation, structure, insulation, interior & exterior sheathing, moisture barrier, finished surfaces, etc.)
- Near zero waste
- Tremendous design freedom (curves and slopes are no more challenging or expensive than straight, plumb lines).
Did you invent the concrete or material used?
As much as we’d love to say we invented concrete...we did not. Concrete formulations from one to another can be as different as people. We did develop a proprietary formula that is unique for our current and future printing projects that we’ve dubbed “lavacrete.”
New Story project
New Story overview
- New Story and ICON unveil first permitted 3D-printed home created for the developing world on March 12th at a private event in Austin, TX.
- ICON is a construction technologies company dedicated to revolutionizing homebuilding. Through their proprietary 3D printing technology and cutting-edge materials, ICON provides sustainable solutions to a number of our world’s most pressing issues, including the pandemic of homelessness in the developing world, the difficulty of constructing off-planet space habitats, and the exorbitant cost of customized housing.
- New Story is a non-profit focused on providing safe homes for families living in slums around the globe. To date, they have built more than 850 homes for families in Haiti, El Salvador, Mexico, and Bolivia.
- ICON has created the first 3D printer developed specifically for underserved populations with partner New Story in order to provide higher quality homes and impact more families faster at a lower cost.
- The printer, dubbed The Vulcan, has successfully printed the first permitted, 3D home, built to US housing standards, in Austin, Texas.
- It is designed to work under the constraints that are common in places like Haiti and rural El Salvador, where New Story works. Power can be unpredictable, potable water is not a guarantee, and technical assistance is sparse.
- The 3D printer has been under wraps for the last 8 months during building, testing, and development.
- ICON and New Story believe 3D printing technologies are set to transform global homelessness and will print their first community of homes in El Salvador in the coming 18 months.
- In the future, New Story plans to open this breakthrough technology from ICON to other nonprofits and governments around the world that are focused on providing safe shelter for underserved families.
- The high-powered innovators behind ICON and the first global initiative with New Story include a cross section of engineers, environmentalists, designers and entrepreneurs. ICON and New Story worked in close partnership with several other organizations to develop the Vulcan printer including Pump Studios, Yaskawa Electric, Alchemy Builders, TreeHouse, Keep Real Estate, Andrew Logan Architecture, Linestar Automation and The University of Texas.
What are the circumstances of the communities and families that New Story is helping?
New Story works with families who live without one of the most basic needs – safe shelter. The majority of families live on less than $2 per day. Additionally, in the countries of work (Haiti, El Salvador, Bolivia and Mexico) families have no support system to fall back on. “Homeless shelters” and similar services for the most part do not exist in countries where so many are faced with these issues.
How long are the 3D printed houses expected to last?
The printed homes are expected to last as long or longer than standard Concrete Masonry Unit (CMU) built homes. The homes are built to the International Building Code (IBC) structural code standard.
What type of maintenance will the houses require? What is the estimated cost of maintenance and is this covered by the families or New Story?
Families who receive a home through New Story’s program own the home and maintain it on their own. Homes are purposefully simple without unnecessary items to reduce maintenance costs.
You currently partner with local workers and use locally sourced materials. How does building with a 3D printer change that? Will jobs performed by local workers be eliminated?
New Story currently provides approximately 4 jobs per home using traditional construction. It is currently estimated that the printer will reduce the number of jobs but local labor will still be required for aspects of communities. Since the mix has relatively easy to find constituent parts, local procurement is expected to be feasible.
When will the first family move into a 3D printed home?
The project will break ground in 2019 in Latin America.
What are the challenges of 3D printing in less than ideal conditions?
These printers are designed to work under the constraints common places like Haiti and rural El Salvador where power can be unpredictable, potable water is not a guarantee, and technical assistance is sparse. Building the printer to not rely on these items was crucial to bet on the reliability of the printer in the field.
Cielo Property Group
Cielo announced that they have commissioned a Vulcan II printer from ICON to be dedicated to the city of Austin to print affordable, sustainable, beautiful and resilient housing.
Cielo believes this partnership will help bring permanent housing to many more people in Austin and ultimately around the country either by Cielo expanding its involvement in other cities or by serving as a model for how other developers/private companies can play a direct role in solving the pressing problems of affordable housing and homelessness.
“Cielo believes real estate should be a force for good and that fits perfectly with ICON’s mission to radically change homebuilding in order to make dignified housing available to more people around the world,” said Cielo Co-Founder, Bobby Dillard. “Affordability is a growing challenge in Austin and many American cities. This printer that we’ve commissioned for the city of Austin will have a positive impact on thousands of lives, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to work with ICON and leverage our expertise in development to help our community."
3Strands Neighborhoods announced its early partnership with ICON to explore architectural and design concepts that could be delivered by Vulcan II.
“ICON is leading the way on truly transformational approaches to how we build homes,” said Gary O’Dell, CEO and co-founder of 3Strands Neighborhoods. “The Vulcan II, and other innovations, will allow us to drive down the costs of building and operating new homes and in turn reduce the stress of housing in people’s lives.”
3Strands Neighborhoods is teaming up architecture firm, Overland Partners, by sponsoring a design contest for their world class architects to imagine the possibilities for what the Vulcan II can do. The winning designs will help shape the way they think about future projects. The public will select a winning design the week of March 11.
3Strands Neighborhoods aims for its future neighborhoods to deliver lower cost, sustainable housing that leverages ICON’s 3D printing technology. 3Strands Neighborhoods goal is to promote the belonging by building clusters of homes with shared spaces and programming that fosters healthier relationships.