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Icon 3D-printed houses are leading a revolution in real estate

3D printing homes on Earth, someday the moon
3D printing a 100-home community in Texas, and someday on the moon | 60 Minutes 22:27

Prices for new homes are on the rise. But there's a new kind of home going on the market that some say could change that trend, reports CBS News' Michael George in Calverton, New York.

3D printed houses —partially built by a robotic construction system that stacks layers upon layers of concrete from the ground up to create the framework for a new home — are transforming the speed and cost at which houses are being developed and sold. 

While the 3D printer can't do all the work, it can build about 40% of the structure before workers come in to finish the rest, according to Kirk Andersen, director of operations for SQ4D Inc., a 3D house printing company based in Patchogue on New York's Long Island.

"We should be able to do our part of the build in eight days or less," Anderson told CBS News, referring to a 1,900-square-foot structure currently being printed and soon to be turned into a model Long Island home. 

SQ4D is developing a similar residence in Riverhead, New York, that is the first 3D printed house to be placed for sale in the U.S., according to 3Dnatives. The three-bedroom, 1,400 square-foot house is listed for $299,000, about 80% the median cost of comparable homes in the area, which is around $370,000 according to Redfin real estate brokerage.

SQ4D claims they have already received more than 1,000 offers to purchase this 3D printed three-bedroom home for sale in Riverhead, New York. It is the first 3D printed house to be placed on the market in the U.S. Asking price: $299.000. 3D Natives

"This process can save you about 20% to 30% on an overall bill," Anderson said.

Icon 3D-printed homes: from Texas to the moon

Icon , a construction technology startup in Austin, Texas, in 2019 built the first-ever 3D printed neighborhood in Mexico

The Texas company, which is committed to "affordable, dignified housing available to everyone throughout the world," is working with nonprofits to build low-income housing using its own proprietary construction technology. 

Founder Jason Ballard, 41, recently took 60 Minutes' Leslie Stahl on a tour of the step-by-step process of 3D-printed house construction works. The company is currently working on a huge development of 100 concrete-structured homes north of Austin, which will be the largest community of 3D-printed houses in the world.

Ballard's company is in a partnership with NASA to pioneer 3D printing on the moon as part of the space agency's Artemis missions. Named after the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology, the Artemis mission "will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon," and "establish the first long-term presence on the Moon," according to NASA's Artemis web page.

Free-form 3D printing technology

Mighty Buildings in California offers a range of customizable homes also using its own 3D printing equipment.

"We've developed a unique technology — we can print geometry, we can do curves, we can do free-form," Sam Reuben, one of Mighty Buildings' cofounders, told CBS News.

Construction is a $1.3 trillion industry in the U.S., according to the Associated General Contractors of America, an industry that 3D construction companies, with their radical new technology and equally radical ideas, seem poised to disrupt.

SQ4D claims it has already received more than a thousand offers to purchase the 3D printed home in Riverhead — an indication that if you print it, they will come.

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