Living in 3D
I was spellbound as I watched a house being printed. And I am not talking about some little model house but a full size house that will be enjoyed by a family for years to come.
I remember the first time I saw a 3D printer, It was the mid 80’s and I was working at a small company called Lockheed Martin. Ok maybe not so small but the point is, at the time, these printers were incredibly expensive and you had to have resources like a Lockheed Martin to own and operate one of these things. Lockheed Martin was just starting to use them for prototype design and for limited applications. The prints were restricted to a fairly small form factor and the typical material was not of production quality.
Fast forward to 2019, I have long left Lockheed Martin and now running a small watersports company. I recently got into a fairly new sport called foil boarding. For someone who has never seen someone foil boarding it is a little hard to explain. But the basics are you attach what amounts to a small airplane wing to the bottom of a surfboard via a mast. The wing is positioned a few feet below the board. As the board gets propelled by the energy of a wave the entire board, along with its rider, is lifted out of the water.
As a builder of the foil board, one area I saw needing improvement is the way the foil mast was attached to the board. Every surfboard manufacturer producing foil boards used fin boxes to attach the mast to the board. These fin boxes were the same boxes that have been used for the past 40 years. They were not intended for an application like attaching a foil to the bottom of a board.
There had to be a better way and that gets me back to the 3D printer. As I started to research the 3D printer of today it was pretty amazing to see how far 3D printing had come. For me personally leveraging the 3D printer was not anything life-changing nor going to make the world a better place. Unless you are a foil boarder who wants a safer more secure foil attachment which is what I was able to produce via a 3D printer.
But thinking outside the printer box and thinking big is exactly what ICON Technology did when it came to 3D printing. In 2018, ICON was the first company in America to secure a building permit for and build a 3D printed home. Since then, they have gone on to use this technology for the good by 3D printing homes for the homeless, printing homes in areas of extreme poverty, and even out of this world construction which may be the future for space exploration
The goodness of 3D home printing technology does not stop with the social aspects of helping those in need. The environmental implications can not be underestimated as well.
When you look at the history of home building the general methods of construction has not changed for hundreds if not thousands of years. The amount of waste that is generated from a 2000 square foot home can be over 8000 pounds. Most of this waste ends up in a landfill. With 3D printed homes there can be a vast reduction in waste. A computer design can calculate the exact amount of the material needed to fabricate the home.
In addition to reducing material waste, there is opportunity for reduction in material transportation cost and reduction in overall operating costs. Even the materials being used for printing homes is continuing to improve. All this adds up to a drastically reduced carbon footprint associated with building homes.
There is very little innovation in building methods where 3D printing stands to not make early and rapid inroads.
There will be challenges before 3D building construction is mainstream. But it is this kind of “For The Good” ideas that make us here at Mangrove Investor excited about the future. Printing homes is the kind of idea that not only helps solve social problems but at the same time contributes to environmental sustainability.
For the Good