Jason Ballard's Austin-based startup, Icon, wants to solve the housing crisis by using a giant 3-D printer to construct entire homes in a matter of days--or even hours. Here's a look at the machine in action.
Icon's Vulcan II printer stands over 11 feet tall, is 33 feet wide, and weighs just under two tons.
The printer's frame slides back and forth on a track, while the lower lateral arm moves up and down and this printhead goes side to side.
The printer streams out five to seven linear inches of concrete per second. This means the shell of a 2,000-square-foot building can rise in just a few days.
One of the biggest challenges is getting the concrete's consistency just right. It must be wet enough to bind to the layer below and dry enough to hold its shape. Icon uses a proprietary formula called Lavacrete.
Icon's standard print "bead" is one inch tall and two inches wide. Concrete stacks up in a hollow formation with an extra zigzag bead inside.
The Vulcan II can print walls up to 8 1/2 feet tall. This 500-square-foot structure required 27 hours of printing time.
Once the walls reach their full height, the roof, windows, and doors are installed the old-fashioned way.