Lennar and ICON Partner To Build 3D-Printed Community in Austin

3D-printed homes are on the rise, and a new partnership raises questions on the future of off-site construction.

October 27, 2021
ICON homes

Photo: courtesy ICON 

As off-site construction methods continue to slowly gain traction in home building, with some new communities even being 3D printed, it raises the question of how this method could impact remodeling.

In Austin, Texas production home builder Lennar and 3D home printing company ICON will soon embark on a 100-home community. Though this is not the first 3D printed community, it’s the largest in the country. 3D home printing company Mighty Buildings paired up with a California developer for 15 homes in Rancho Mirage, and ICON printed a 50-home community in Tabasco, Mexico.

Off-site construction manufacturers tout the benefits on the jobsite when building components are built off-site, with the overarching benefit of building more efficiently. 3D printing is one growing off-site construction method. 

Time & Money

Home building through large-scale 3D printing is not only an advancement in technology, but cuts down labor, material costs, and time. In fact, a 3D printed home can be built in as little as 24 hours, according to ICON.

Time and money are two precious components in this industry. According to KXAN news, there’s currently a shortage of homes in Austin, and the city wants to see how well this project can go.

Building benefits VS. Remodeling restraints

The partnership between Lennar and ICON can be seen as the start of a major advancement in home building, but what about remodeling? Although 3D printers can be great for home construction and replacing traditional framing methods, the materials used in remodeling make it a challenge to incorporate the technology today. 

3D Advancement

3D printers produce concrete, wood, fiber, or plastic, depending on the manufacturer. Conversely, the list of remodeling materials is much longer and more complex, especially when you get into higher-end finishes. In addition, remodeling jobs are one-off, custom projects versus a production home, which is built quickly by replicating the same process again and again. Also, most remodelers are small businesses without the resources to partner with a firm like ICON. With that in mind, it's unlikely that we'll see remodeling projects using 3D printing any time soon.

Yet the fast-growing technology is well worth watching. Who knows, in 10 years we might be able to remodel an entire kitchen with the click of a button. 

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