ICON Introduces Multi-Story Phoenix 3D Printer and Innovation Construction Software

By on March 14th, 2024 in news, printer

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Phoenix construction 3D printer [Source: ICON]

ICON announced a series of new products, including a multi-story construction 3D printer.

While the new 3D printer seems to be the most visual item in the four part announcement, there are several other very important new capabilities.

Let’s start with the new 3D printer, the Phoenix. It’s a robotic arm system that is quite tall, and different from its predecessor, the Vulcan. Vulcan is more of a cartesian style, while Phoenix is a large robotic arm with specialized toolhead.

I haven’t found the specifications for Phoenix, but we do know it has a couple of interesting properties. It is able to build tall structures, having completed an 8m+ structure at a recent event. This demonstrates the extended “reach” of the Phoenix.

Phoenix is also capable of printing foundations and roofs. ICON established two price levels for Phoenix projects: US$25/sf for walls-only projects, and US$80/sf for walls, foundation and roof projects.

ICON said Phoenix also operates at a faster rate, and has a decreased setup time, which is a factor of increasing importance in the construction 3D printing world.

Sample construction 3D model from CODEX [Source: ICON]

The next announcement was “CODEX”, which is a growing library of pre-designed 3D models for buildings made in a variety of styles. ICON explains:

“ICON’s digital catalog of ready-to-print home architecture features more than 60 designs across five collections: Texas modern, fire resilient, storm resilient, affordable, and avant garde. The aim of CODEX is to make high-design and high-performance residential architecture available at all price points. CODEX allows builders, developers, and home buyers to build with ICON quickly and affordably using world-class architecture.”

This is very likely the first repository of building 3D models specifically for 3D printing. This will almost certainly trigger the creation of similar repositories among ICON’s competitors: there could be a content battle in the future, where you must work with this provider in order to use that specific design.

ICON also announced CarbonX, a new material for use in their construction 3D printers. Cement, the key ingredient in concrete, is notoriously bad for carbon dioxide emissions. That’s because it requires significant heat to create cement, often produced with fossil fuels. The new CarbonX material somehow reduces the amount of CO2 emitted during the entire build lifecycle. It’s not exactly clear how this is accomplished, but it’s likely due to changes in the cement ratio and production processes.

Example of Vitruvius AI generating construction 3D options [Source: ICON]

Finally, ICON announced a new AI system, “Vitruvius”, that will assist managers in using their technology on building projects. The AI system will automatically generate renderings of finished designs, floor plans, all based on user input requirements.

But that’s not all. ICON seems to have lofty goals for Vitruvius in coming months. They explain:

”By the end of this year, Vitruvius will progress all the way through schematic designs and in the following year ICON believes its AI architect will be able to produce full construction documents as well as permit-ready designs, budgets, and schedules. What truly makes Vitruvius unique is the combination of design and construction know-how. That knowledge is what allows Vitruvius to produce designs that can actually be built.”

That’s quite incredible, and I believe unique in the world of 3D printing — even outside of construction 3D printing. It’s now clear that ICON has been spending considerable resources developing their software infrastructure and is almost certainly far ahead of their competitors in this aspect.

It may be that the Phoenix 3D printer could turn out to be the least important of the four announcements from ICON this week.


By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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