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3D-Printed Houses are Popping Up in America—the Moon Might Be Next

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Innovation

3D-Printed Houses are Popping Up in America—the Moon Might Be Next


March 31, 2021
Townhomes with moon in the sky
Photo: Jason

Icon, a Texas-based 3D home printing company, created the country’s first fully permitted, fully 3D-printed home. Now, Icon is in talks with NASA to bring its creations to the moon. Cofounder and CEO Jason Ballard sat down with Fast Company, telling them Icon emerged from frustrations with the country’s housing situation. The company printed six homes and an entire community for those struggling to afford housing. Its homes come from a 10-by-35-foot printer which extrudes layers of concrete, Fast Company says. The company claims the concrete layers are sturdier, faster, and cheaper to use than timber,

He believes all that could help solve the housing crisis, where there’s not enough housing and many are shut out of available units due to high prices. In its early partnerships, Icon joined with Community First! Village to build six houses in Central Texas, and with another nonprofit, New Story, to build a community in a rural area of Mexico. In both cases, the 3D-printed homes were for those struggling to afford housing. “It’s often the poorest who are the last able to access new breakthroughs and technology,” Ballard says.

Now, Icon is well into discussions with NASA to experiment with printing houses on the moon and Mars. They’ll have to think big once again: Because of the challenging atmosphere in outer space, they’ll have to use different types of concrete made with local geology. Experiments with melting simulated moon dust in the lab have been successful, Ballard says.

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