Are 3D-printed homes the future of affordable housing?

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At 12 feet tall and 33 feet wide, the Vulcan 2 may be the biggest 3D printer in the world, says the company that created it, and it’s got ambitions that are just as big.

Jason Ballard, CEO and founder of ICON, says he wants to use it to help solve Austin’s affordable housing and homeless crisis.

“Every week my inbox is full of very sad stories about real human lives, and we’re just trying to take that and do something positive,” said

The company actually debuted the first and only home built by its previous 3D printer, Vulcan 1, last year. The Vulcan 2 is two-and-a-half times faster.

“You have a machine that would cost as much as a house, but that machine is able to build thousands of houses at a fraction of the price, so that’s where we think the pay out and the scalability ends up being,” Ballard said.

Using a proprietary concrete mix, a 500-sq foot home can be printed out in one day; three days for a 2,000 square foot home.

ICON says it has partnered with a property firm with the goal of building 20 to 100 homes in Austin this year.

“This right here is the first dedicated affordable housing printer in the United States, and we get to give it to Austin,” said Bobby Dillard, the CEO of Cielo Property Group..

Meanwhile, ICON is building Vulcan 2 printers as fast as it can.

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