By Olivia Rigby
The company ICON is becoming an icon in its own right with its plans for 3D-printed homes not just on Earth but also in space. ICON 3D-printed homes are some of the first of their kind. The company is predicting that this will change the way homes are built in the future, and the Army, as well as NASA, is taking advantage of this new technology. Keep reading to learn more about ICON and the projects it’s taking on.

See more:

How a 3D Printer on USS Essex Is Changing the Game for Naval Ships

ICON 3D-Printed Homes in Texas

ICON is creating a community of 3D-printed homes in Texas. The community is called the Wolf Ranch community and is located in the hills of Georgetown. ICON has partnered with Lennar, a construction company, to create this new 3D-printed home community. The ICON 3D printing homes project claims to produce homes built for extreme weather; the ICON 3D printer “prints” homes made of concrete. ICON claims that their wall system surpasses building code requirements by over 350% and that their concrete homes provide better insulation, creating an energy-efficient home while also providing better soundproofing and cozier homes. The appeal of the Vulcan 3D printer, which is about 9,500 pounds and 46.5 feet wide, for big companies is that you don’t have to pay it overtime as it’s building your house, unlike human laborers. The idea is that these homes save on labor costs while shortening production time, both of which are good for business. Some housing experts have stated that there is a 3 million home housing shortage as well as a construction worker shortage. This means that the 3D-printing Vulcan really could change the future of the housing market in the United States, and eventually across the world.

3D-Printed Barracks

The ICON 3D-printed homes could significantly change the housing market across the world. How do we know? Well, it’s already changing military housing! The Army was so impressed with the ICON homes that they contracted ICON to help them 3D print barracks with the Vulcan printer at Fort Bliss, also in Texas. Vulcan is meant to build three 5,700-square-foot barracks. Building started in April 2022 and is expected to be completed in 10 months, meaning the barracks should be ready soon. No official information about the price of these barracks has been released yet, but ICON officials have stated that the 3D-printed barracks will cost about 10-30% less than traditional construction costs. However, ICON has won at least $15 million in contracts with the Department of Defense since 2019. So, what does the future of barracks look like with this new technology?

Building Homes on the Moon?

The Army wasn’t the only one impressed with the ICON 3D-printed homes. NASA was equally, if not more, impressed with the technology; ICON recently signed a $57.2 million contract with NASA. But what does NASA want with their technology? The answer: Moon colonization. NASA and ICON are teaming up to work on 3D printing technology to build landing pads, habitats, and roads on the Moon. They’re calling this project Project Olympus. If the new ICON developments succeed, the ICON 3D-printed homes on the Moon will be the first permanent structures fit for humans outside of the Earth.

Project Olympus: The Challenges

Though ICON has been extremely successful on Earth, the Moon creates a whole new set of challenges to overcome for the ICON 3D-printed homes. (And no, these problems don’t include Moon aliens… probably). The biggest struggle is overcoming the gravity differences between the Earth and the Moon. Other struggles include launching the building materials into space, the (obvious) lack of air in space, and the risks of radiation and micrometeorites.

Project Olympus: The Plans

ICON plans to do their 3D printing on the Moon with lunar regolith. Basically, lunar regolith is just the rocks and dust already found on the Moon’s surface. The plan so far is to work on the lunar regolith samples brought back from the Apollo missions. The ICON 3D-printed homes are pretty cool and a bit futuristic. ICON has already met much success on Earth, so let's hope that the ICON 3D-printed Moon homes will have the same success (as long as the aliens don’t get mad at us).

See more:

27 Of the Best Things to Do on Fort Bliss




Get the latest news and military discounts