ICON, one of the few construction 3D printing companies, has raised a startling US$207M in new investment.
It seems this week has been a boom for several construction 3D printing companies, and the theme continues with this huge investment.
ICON is a Texas-based firm that uses a concrete extrusion process to produce large-scale outdoor structures. They’ve been involved in a number of notable projects, including achieving the very first (mostly) 3D printed home in the US that passed the permitting process. If you’re familiar with the world of construction 3D printing, you’ll know that’s a big deal.
One of their more recent projects is an ongoing collaboration with NASA to develop methods of 3D printing buildings on the Moon and Mars using in-situ materials. In all, they’ve produced more than two dozen structures in the US and Mexico.
All of this is accomplished with the company’s Vulcan construction 3D printer and associated software, BuildOS. First announced in 2019, the Vulcan is able to 3D print single-story concrete structures up to 3000sf (280sm). It’s essentially a huge cartesian gantry system the sits overtop of a build site where the concrete is extruded. The system uses a proprietary mix called “Lavacrete”.
However, the latest Series B round is by far the largest, and certainly among the largest ever for 3D printing companies. Led by Northwest Ventures, the amount likely places ICON at the top for funding of 3D printed construction companies.
ICON Co-founder and CEO Jason Ballard said:
“We want to turn up the velocity in a major way and are ready to scale. With the support of the very best of venture capital, strategic capital and industry partners, this round of funding will help us do just that: faster R&D, manufacturing and expansion to the people and places that need this technology.”
This amount is certainly able to do that, and much more. In fact, it’s so huge an amount that they could consider doing almost anything they care to undertake.
While the obvious use of the funds is to expand their marketing and operational capabilities to begin more projects, they have now sufficient funds to acquire competitors, most of which are small scale compared to ICON. Some of them have somewhat different capabilities that might complement ICON’s existing Vulcan system, so this might be something to look for in the future.
In the R&D area, there are plenty of technical steps the company could take. One notable improvement could be to adapt their technology to enable printing of multi-story structures. At least one competitor is already able to do this, so ICON could be working on this technology.
Regardless of how they use this massive infusion of cash, it’s clear now that ICON will be one of the major construction 3D printing companies for quite some time.