Global asset management company Starfleet Innotech (SFIO) has unveiled plans to deploy construction start-up Luyten’s 3D printing technology to build a portfolio of affordable homes in the Philippines.
As part of a newly-agreed partnership between the firms, SFIO is set to utilize Luyten’s systems and materials to aid a number of real estate projects it’s carrying out alongside tourism brand Moraya. Through the initiative, SFIO anticipates being able to erect up to 500 low-cost housing units across the Philippines over the next two years, as well as “augmenting its current township developments.”
“Joining Moraya’s divisional ecosystem, Luyten will play a key role as an enabler for our various real estate initiatives,” said Starfleet Innotech CEO Jeths Lacson. “Their affordable, sustainable offerings will allow us to build exciting projects that champion both the new communities we hope to build, as well as the existing communities we hope to serve.”
“Our partnership with Luyten stems from our commitment to invest in the futures of the industries we operate in.”
Luyten in construction 3D printing
Established in 2020 with the stated aim of “bridging the technological gap” between construction and manufacturing, Luyten specializes in the development of concrete 3D printers. At present, the firm’s offering includes two systems: the Platypus and Platypus Expeditionary, with a third, the Platypus X12, said to be in the works.
Each of these modular machines may feature a similar gantry-style format, but their capabilities vary across the range, allowing them to meet the needs of different users. While the entry-level Platypus is designed to serve as an accessible way of validating architectural concepts, the Expeditionary edition offers greater on-site flexibility, enabling users to scale their build as and when they desire.
Thus far, Luyten has largely sought to deploy its systems in homebuilding applications, recently using the latter to construct ‘the first AS/NZS 1170 code-compliant house in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere.’ In complying with this ruleset, the building, which took around three days to construct, is said to feature a robust design that allows it to withstand strong ‘wind actions’ during usage.
Late last year, the firm also revealed that it was working as part of Project Meeka to expedite the R&D of a new ‘Platypus Galacticas’ lunar regolith 3D printer. Set to be capable of creating infrastructure up to 9m x 12m in size, the system is ultimately being designed to aid Australia’s ambitions of establishing a permanent presence on the Moon.
Making plans for low-cost housing
Although the nature and location of the builds SFIO has planned for its low-cost housing community remain unclear, the firm itself maintains that by using Luyten’s technology within their construction, it will be able to complete them up to 70% more quickly, while producing 60% less waste than if they were to be erected via traditional technologies.
Citing the ability of Luyten’s gantry machines to build two-bedroom homes inside of two days, SFIO says that they could enable it to achieve greater automation within many of its real estate projects. Using the systems’ remote control functionality, for instance, the firm anticipates being able to operate them with fewer human inputs, thus allowing it to achieve “more cost-effective construction periods.”
In exchange for using Luyten’s technologies to build these affordable housing units, the SFIO has also agreed to act as its main reseller in the Philippines. In fact, as part of the firms’ agreement, SFIO will become the exclusive distributor of Luyten machinery in the country moving forwards, and it now projects selling ‘at least fifty units’ to developers and organizations there over the next 12 months.
While the company concedes that any future sales will be subject to regulatory approval, it does expect to see demand from both government units and nonprofits seeking an affordable means of building quality, resilient homes in the country.
What’s more, even though SFIO only values the construction 3D printing sector at $19 million, it believes this could rise to $5 billion by 2030, thus its deal with Luyten offers it a means of entering what it believes is an area with rapid-growth potential.
Investor interest in construction AM
Concrete 3D printing may not have made significant inroads into the construction sector just yet, but its potential to do so has managed to attract a serious amount of investment. One of the early market leaders in this respect is ICON, which has so far raised $461 million in funding towards the development of its proprietary Vulcan 3D printing technology.
Californian construction start-up Mighty Buildings has also been backed with over $100 million by investors to fund the R&D of its extrusion-based construction 3D printing approach. Upon closing its most recent $22 million funding round, the company committed to using the extra capital to accelerate its carbon neutrality roadmap, and expand its strategic supply chain partnerships.
As recently as March 2022, Diamond Age was able to take advantage of this flurry of investor activity as well, by closing a $50 million Series A funding round. Through combining 3D printing and robotic automation, the firm is aiming to develop a means of more than halving the amount of manual labor required to build a new home, while reducing lead times from nine months to just 30 days.
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Featured image shows Luyten’s Platypus 3D printer in-action. Photo via Jarett Gross, Automate Construction.