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Giving back with 3D printers

December 29th, 2018



Things that typically come to mind when people think of Texas are cowboys and cacti. The first there are plenty of; the second occurs mostly in the western part of the state. It's not until you mention metropolitan areas that people's Texas stereotypes begin to change - Houston and NASA, Dallas and the TV show, San Antonio and the Alamo, and Austin and the Capitol. Then, the perception leans toward things like ingenuity, innovation, and leadership. This is the time of year for giving, and one Austin based company is using all these traits to give back in a global effort. ICON has pioneered an advancement in the world of 3D printing with the hope of eliminating homelessness. 3D printing is the use of a computer to engineer materials into a 3D model and has been used on the small scale for prototypes and replicas. Earlier this year, with the help of it's Vulcan 3D printer, ICON and business partner New Story created the first permitted, permanent dwelling for less than $4000. The 350 square foot mini-house took about 48 hours to build, though subsequent buildings have been done in 24 hours. The build was enough to impress investors and cement a deal to allow ICON + New Story to continue on their journey to eradicate the global epidemic of homelessness. Advancements in 3D printing for construction began in 2004 when Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of South Carolina thought larger scale application could reap the benefits of potentially speeding the building processes and decreasing waste, and that it could also help decrease cost and increase sustainability. Mainly used to 3D print concrete, large scale use of 3D printing has not been widely used yet, but with ICON's developments, maybe new doors will open. ICON's next step is set to be unveiled in 2019.  

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Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Houston Association of REALTORS®

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