The Hustle

Icon, a 3D printing startup, raised $9m to revolutionize homeownership

Icon, a startup that 3D-prints homes in 24 hours, raised $9m in seed funding to expand its affordable housing projects across the globe. Thanks to tech that reduces 3D home-printing costs to as low as $4k, Icon is one of...


October 18, 2018

Icon, a startup that 3D-prints homes in 24 hours, raised $9m in seed funding to expand its affordable housing projects across the globe.

Thanks to tech that reduces 3D home-printing costs to as low as $4k, Icon is one of several companies trying to revolutionize homeownership — much like Sears (pour one out) did a century ago. 

3D printing is starting to think BIG

Today, 3D printers can produce anything from human skulls to 3D printers. But, while most recent applications focus on producing small components, Icon and several other 3D printing startups are creating entire buildings.

Icon’s house-printing apparatus, Vulcan, works by stacking ¾-inch layers of concrete like zigzags of ketchup on a well-crafted, all-beef frank. 

The company has already constructed a fully functional prototype near its Austin headquarters. In partnership with housing nonprofit New Story, it plans to build an entire community of $4k houses in El Salvador in the next 18 months. 

A home-building revolution for the 21st century

Icon is just one of several companies trying to deliver a cheaper, faster home-building solution: Other startups also offer 3D-printed homes, and Amazon released a $36k shipping container house earlier this month.

But, neither Icon nor Amazon is the first for-profit company to revolutionize home-building — Sears did it first.

Between 1908 and 1940, Sears sold 70k+ mail-order kit homes (in 400+ varieties), making houses cheaper for buyers. Now, Icon is trying to take a page out of Sears’ book. They’re just skipping chapter 11.

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