Adobe Stock / Kange Studio

On Monday, Texas construction-tech startup Icon unveiled its newest 3-D concrete printer, the Vulcan II, which allows users to produce family homes of up to 2,000 square feet in size with walls that “resemble the folds of a shar-pei dog.”

Austin-based developer Cielo Property Group is purchasing the Vulcan II, and intends to use it to construct affordable housing later this year. Icon says that by the end of the year it will be able to use its 3-D printing technology to create livable concrete homes within days, potentially saving up to 30% on the production costs of new homes.

As fantastical as it seems, a 3-D-printed home could address real problems facing the industry. Construction costs have skyrocketed due to shortages of workers and rising material prices. About 1.2 million homes have been started annually in the U.S. over the past several years, about 250,000 fewer than the historic norm. Dozens of startups have also poured hundreds of millions of dollars into technology that could make the industry more efficient. None has yet made a real dent in the problem.

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