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Texan construction firm ICON has unveiled an innovative 3D printed training barracks claimed to be the largest 3D printed structure in North America.
Designed in partnership with the Texas Military Department (TMD), the 3D printed building installed at the Camp Swift Training Center in Bastrop, Texas, is set to house up to 72 US troops while they train for missions, becoming the first soldiers in the world to live in 3D printed barracks.
The project is the result of an SBIR Strategic Fund Increase contract through AFVentures, TMD, and the US Air Force’s in-house incubator AFWERX, who are seeking to create barracks of the future using construction scale 3D printing technology.
“It is an honor for the ICON team to work alongside TMD, AFWERX and the Defense Innovation Unit to have created these resilient, energy-efficient 3D printing barracks that soldiers can now call home during their training,” said Evan Loomis, Co-founder of ICON. “ICON continues our missional work to deliver dignified, resilient shelter for social housing, disaster-relief housing, market-rate homes, and now, homes for those serving our country.
“We are scaling this technology across Texas, the US, and eventually the world. This is the beginning of a true paradigm shift in homebuilding.”
ICON’s construction 3D printing portfolio
To complete its international construction 3D printing projects, ICON utilizes its proprietary Vulcan 3D printer, which has a capacity of some 2,000 square feet and enables the production of durable single-storey structures. After raising $9 million in 2018, the firm used the Vulcan to build the first authorized 3D printed home in the US in partnership with non-profit New Story.
ICON has since scaled the use of its 3D printer, constructing an affordable housing community for the homeless in Latin America and building large ‘vehicle hide structures’ for the US Marine Corps. Earlier this year, the firm listed its first 3D printed homes on the domestic US housing market, with prices starting at around $450,000.
In May, ICON revealed it had developed an upgraded version of its Vulcan 3D printing system that is reportedly capable of printing homes up to 3,000 square foot in size. The new system features the same Magma mixing system and Lavacrete 3D printing material as the original but is also equipped with an automated control system to enable remote operation via mobile devices.
The company’s technology doesn’t just have applications on Earth, having been increasingly leveraged for aerospace applications. Last year, ICON received a NASA contract to develop a 3D printed off-world construction system for the Moon as part of Project Olympus, and has more recently successfully 3D printed a reusable lunar launch and landing pad capable of withstanding static fire tests.
Most recently, the company was chosen to 3D print a martian habitat for long-term mission simulations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, to prepare astronauts for the conditions they will experience when they visit the surface of Mars.
Constructing the 3D printed barracks
Designed by Logan Architecture with structural engineering by Fort Structures, the 3D printed barracks is the latest project that makes use of ICON’s Vulcan construction system and proprietary materials. The technology was chosen by the US Military to provide a new way of fabricating safe, strong, and energy efficient structures quicker than conventional construction methods allow.
The barracks has reportedly become the largest 3D printed structure in North America, spanning 3,800 square feet. Constructed from concrete, the barracks is capable of holding up to 72 men and women soldiers while they train for missions at Camp Swift.
“Guardsmen from all over Texas come to Camp Swift to train and to mobilize for deployments,” said Colonel Zebediah Miller, Director of Facilities at TMD. “The printed barracks will not only provide our soldiers a safe and comfortable place to stay while they train, but because they are printed in concrete, we anticipate them to last for decades.”
ICON’s technology enables the US Military to replace temporary barracks that are past their intended lifespan with more efficient permanent structures. The company’s 3D printing process is also being evaluated for its suitability in enabling the building of facilities in forward-deployed locations that reduces time, costs, and construction risks. For example, the technology could be utilized by the Military to build infrastructure that will support local communities to rebuild faster from natural disasters.
“Texas has become a technological center of gravity within the nation,” said Major General Tracy Norris, Adjutant General of Texas. “TMD is proud to be a conduit for introducing these innovative solutions into the military community.”
The TMD and ICON have officially opened the 3D printed barracks in a ribbon cutting ceremony, with troops set to begin inhabiting the building later this year.
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Featured image shows the 3,800 square foot barracks 3D printed using ICON’s Vulcan construction 3D printing system. Photo via ICON.