Texas-based construction 3D printing firm ICON has raised another $185 million in funding, according to a report by TechCrunch.
Citing sources “familiar with the deal,” the site says that ICON’s latest fundraiser is an extension of the $207 million Series B funding round it held last year. While the firm itself hasn’t publicly commented on the investment, the same anonymous source has said it was provided by existing backers, and that the firm’s valuation is “now approaching $2 billion.”
Vulcan 3D printing in-action
Since it was founded in late-2017, ICON has steadily iterated upon its Vulcan 3D printing technology, and deployed it to construct ever-more challenging, complex and larger-in-scale builds. While the company started off by 3D printing a Latin American housing community alongside non-profit New Story in 2019, it has gone on to create everything from military training barracks to lunar launch pads.
ICON has worked extensively with NASA as well, to explore its technology’s off-world potential, previously resulting in a 1,700 sq. ft simulated martian habitat being 3D printed at Johnson Space Center, and the organizations continue to collaborate on the R&D of a novel lunar 3D printer, capable of layering regolith into permanent buildings on the Moon.
As part of more conventional projects on terra firma, ICON has so far managed to print two dozen US homes, including the four multi-storey buildings it erected in East Austin and listed for sale in 2021. Following its last round of funding, the firm also unveiled plans to construct a 100-strong community of homes, its largest to-date, and it continues to strive to address the USA’s affordable housing shortage.
“Labor and material shortages are two of the biggest factors pushing the dream of home ownership out of reach for many American families,” said Eric Feder, President of LENX, the investing arm of the homebuilder ICON has partnered with, Lennar. “Lennar has always expanded the boundaries of technological innovation to keep quality homes affordable and 3D printing is an immensely encouraging approach.”
ICON’s ‘exciting opportunity?’
ICON’s $185 million funding round is said to have been led by Tiger Global Management and supported by its existing investors too. Although these weren’t named by TechCrunch’s source, they’re understood to be the same backers as its previous funding rounds, which included the likes of Norwest Venture Partners, Moderne Ventures, Oakhouse Partners and the Bjarke Ingels Group.
The investment is also said to be an extension of ICON’s Series B funding round of August 2021, which saw Norwest Venture Partners’ Jeff Crowe join its board, in return for providing it with the backing needed to accelerate the R&D of its technologies.
At the time, the firm pledged to use the funding raised to scale its capacity and grow its team of engineers, architects and operational leaders, with the goal of helping “bring housing and construction into the modern world.” Although ICON hasn’t officially announced the funding round’s extension, or how it plans to reinvest any extra capital generated, it’s likely to be deployed to accelerate this expansion.
If the company has indeed attracted another $185 million in funding, this takes its total raised up to $461 million. While ICON was unavailable for comment when contacted by 3D Printing Industry, one of its spokespeople told TechCrunch last week that it remains “excited for the opportunity to continue partnering with world class investors, board members and organizations at every level.”
Competing with a 3D printing unicorn
If TechCrunch’s source is to be believed, ICON is now worth nearly $2 billion, making it by far the best-funded and most valuable concrete 3D printing firm in what is an emerging market. However, many of the company’s competitors have also raised a significant amount of capital over the last year or two, and investors continue to be drawn by their potential to break into the wider construction sector.
In July 2021, Mighty Buildings revealed that it had raised another $22 million, taking its total to date up to $100 million. The company, which utilizes 3D printing, robotics and advanced composites to build sustainable housing modules, said at the time that it planned to use the funding to accelerate its carbon neutrality roadmap and expand its supply chain.
Construction 3D printer manufacturer COBOD has also gained the backing of the German engineering firm PERI Group, which in turn, has deployed its technologies to build properties for the commercial housing market. Back in 2020, the firms unveiled plans to 3D print an entire three-floor building, which they are since said to have finished and split into five separate rentable apartments.
Earlier this month, Azure Printed Homes opened a new 15,000 square foot factory of its own in California, which is said to house a large-format custom-built construction 3D printer. Leveraging the facilities at its complex, the company aims to create backyard studios, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and eventually full-sized homes, from repurposed plastic waste.
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Featured image shows a render of what ICON’s upcoming 100-home community will look like at street level. Image via ICON.