ICONS House Zero Unveiled (3D Printed)
A few years ago, it looked like 3D printing was about to become the next big thing. News stories appeared telling us how it was soon going to be possible to make everything from guns to car parts from the comfort of our home at the touch of a button.
For many of us, the subject has since seemed to disappear again, but meanwhile the industry has been developing apace; and while 3D printing guns at home (a media panic when the subject first came to public attention) isn’t likely to be possible in the average household anytime soon, you’d be surprised what is being created through 3D printing.
Some examples include bionic arms for young amputees, meat, face masks and body parts, including ears and noses.
In 2018, reports emerged of a French family who became the first to live in a 3D printed house. The curved walls were created by printing two layers of polyurethane insulation, which were then filled in with cement. Using this technique allowed the designers to be far more creative with the final shape of the house, while also cutting costs, reducing waste, improving air circulation and thermal resistance, and reducing potential humidity.
Now, an American firm named ICON is taking this concept even further with what it’s calling House Zero – a 2700 square foot house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms – which was unveiled in March 2022 in Austin, Texas. Like the French house, it uses curved walls for improved strength and stability, but the walls are made using a cementitious-based material called Lavacrete, together with insulation and steel for reinforcement.
According to Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of ICON, “House Zero is ground zero for the emergence of entirely new design languages and architectural vernaculars that will use robotic construction to deliver the things we need most from our housing: comfort, beauty, dignity, sustainability, attainability, and hope. Houses like this are only possible with 3D printing, and this is the new standard of what 3D printing can mean for the world.”
Lavacrete, a product developed by ICON, is a kind of high-strength concrete that can withstand extreme weather and natural disasters while also providing maximum efficiency. According to ICON, it can be printed quickly – meaning that the building process can be faster – and will last longer than traditional materials.
Even more recently, it has been further announced that ICON is working with the US Department of Defense to create three 3D printed training barracks in Fort Bliss, Texas using the same principles. At 5700 square feet each, they will be the largest 3D printed structures in the world and are expected to be completed within ten months.
The printer itself, which is called Vulcan, weighs in at 9500 lbs and is 46½ feet wide. It uses heat and pressure to ‘print’ the concrete into the required shape, a process that has been described as looking not unlike ice cream coming out of a dispenser.
At Neil Sullivan & Sons, we’re particularly excited about any new developments in house building, and do everything we can to make sure that we are offering you the very best construction materials on the market at all times.
In the meantime, you can still count on us to supply the fastest and best concrete and cement bags for all your projects in and around London, Essex and East Anglia. Get in touch to find out more or place your order online now.