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ICON Unveils Phoenix: 3D Printer for Multi-Storey Structures

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ICON, a Texas-based construction technology company, has unveiled a groundbreaking 3D printer called Phoenix at the SXSW festival. This robotic-arm-mounted printer can construct fully-enclosed, multi-storey structures using a low-carbon mixture.

The Phoenix printer represents a significant advancement in construction technology. It allows ICON to create multi-storey houses with enclosed systems, opening up new possibilities in architectural design and sustainability. Currently, ICON is building a prototype outside its headquarters in Austin, featuring a dome-like enclosed roof.

One of the key features of Phoenix is its demountable crane-based system, which enables construction at greater heights than ICON’s previous printer, the Vulcan. This system can print structures up to 27 feet tall, making it ideal for multi-storey buildings. The printer uses ICON’s proprietary cementitious admixture, Lavacrete, which is distributed from the crane using a highly integrated system via a stabilised nozzle.

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One of the main advantages of 3D printing in construction is the ability to eliminate much of the formwork typically required in concrete construction. Instead, the printer lays layer upon layer of the mix, slowly creating walls supported by steel.

Moreover, Phoenix’s crane system allows for the construction of multiple structures in a single vicinity with minimal adjustments to the setup. This efficiency reduces the manpower required on-site, making construction faster and more cost-effective.

In addition to the Phoenix printer, ICON announced the development of a new material mixture called CarbonX, which it claims is the “lowest carbon residential building system ready to be used at scale.” This material, along with the integration of AI into its systems, demonstrates ICON’s commitment to innovation and sustainability in construction.

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The company also launched Codex, a repository of “ready-to-print” designs, including three collections by Danish architecture studio BIG. This initiative aims to make 3D-printed homes more accessible and customizable for developers and homeowners.

Overall, ICON’s Phoenix printer and its associated developments mark a significant step forward in construction technology. By harnessing the power of 3D printing and sustainable materials, ICON is shaping the future of construction towards more efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly practices.

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