ICON’s Vulcan II will be able to print a standard house in under 24 hours.
ICON‘s 3D printer is truly a first-of-its-kind solution. The mobile printer fully prints on-site and does not require printing in an off-site location nor does it need to piece together different portions. The entire home is printed seamlessly and it sustainable, produces nearly zero waste and highly durable, low maintenance, and energy-efficient to operate. By contrast to traditional solutions and even recent advancements in modular homebuilding, 3D printing offers vast improvements including:
- 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).
ICON’s first 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. Their first mission is to tackle housing shortages instead of building with profit motivation. And yet, their long-term vision is to bring drastically-needed innovation to the entire housing industry. Their current 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. The printer uses a proprietary small-aggregate cementitious material (also known as a mortar). Since the mix has relatively easy to find constituent parts, local procurement is expected to be feasible.
Beyond developing countries and the US housing market, ICON is actively pursuing research on printing technologies for off-planet space habitats. It turns out, housing is truly a universal problem.