Is 3D Printing the Future of Affordable Housing?

Can you print a house? Jason Ballard insists that we can and should.

As the CEO of Icon, Jason uses an 11-foot-tall, 11,800 pound printer to create 400-square foot houses. Using pliable concrete, Icon is able to lower the cost and time of construction, and the environmental footprint. More, you can customize according to the family’s needs more easily. This innovative idea isn’t just buzzy; it has the potential to change the landscape of homelessness.

The next step is to figure out how to build vertically. One home is great; ten lined up vertically exponentially changes the possibilities.

To be clear, 3D printing cannot currently build a roof – humans need to do that. So, while it can lower human involvement in construction, it can’t eliminate that. Architecture professor Ryan Smith, director of the School of Design and Construction at Washington State University, said, “I personally still feel it will be 30 to 40 years before it will be having an impact.” Others disagree, arguing that the timeline is shorter, and that the potential to change lives is enormous.

Of course, printing walls aims to provide affordable housing, but it doesn’t alleviate the need for emergency shelter. Still, 3D printing offers a big, compelling promise: To help many more people find safety and security. That’s something I think we can all get behind.



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