Project Olympus : ICON chosen by NASA to develop moon base 3D printing tech

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The hype around additive construction continues to grow. Unlike the days in which WinSun would “3D print” a six-story apartment building, we’re seeing numerous projects undertaken by a variety of firms around the world. All of this seems to demonstrate that, despite the hype, there is real technological value there. When that same value will be exhibited for the new space industry and 3D printing buildings on the moon remains unclear, but we can’t rule the possibilities out entirely.

The latest news combining the yet-to-be-fulfilled new space frontier with additive construction is called Project Olympus, a NASA-funded initiative aimed at developing a method for robotic building on the moon. Olympus is being driven by a firm that has been steadily making a name for itself in construction 3D printing: ICON. Adding to its $44 million raised from investors so far is the recent Small Business Innovation Research government contract from NASA to 3D print habitats on the moon using local materials and creating no waste.

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An Austin startup can 3D-print tiny homes in 24 hours for a fraction of the cost of traditional homebuilding — here’s how Icon could revolutionize affordable housing

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Icon will 3D-print six more tiny homes at a property in Austin housing the city’s homeless population. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Icon is an Austin startup that designs 3D-printing technology capable of building tiny homes in about a day for a fraction of the cost of traditional construction methods.

Icon cofounder Evan Loomis told Business Insider that pinpointing an exact cost estimate is tricky, but the company successfully printed a 350-square-foot proof-of-concept home for $10,000 in 24 hours in 2018.

The company isn’t the first to design 3D printing technology for home building, but its unique customization and on-site construction could be revolutionary feats amid a growing demand in the US for affordable housing.

Icon’s latest 3D printer, the Vulcan ll, is available for purchase and is already being put to use.

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ICON unveils a new large scale 3D printer to build affordable homes

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Mayor Steve Adler with ICON Cofounder Evan Loomis at ICON’s headquarters for an event to unveil its newest large-scale 3D printer, Vulcan II which can be used to create affordable homes

Austin-based ICON on Monday unveiled its new “Vulcan II” 3D printer that can print up to a 2,000 square foot house quickly at half the cost.

“It’s four times as big, it’s twice as fast, and it’s going to start shipping to customers next month,” said Jason Ballard, CEO and Co-founder of ICON. “This is not science fiction, it’s science fact. The world you all have been waiting for is about to arrive.”

ICON has also created proprietary concrete/mortar material which it calls “Lavacrete” that has passed every structural test and is safe for people and resilient to the varieties of conditions it may encounter, according to the company.

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Can 3D printed homes solve the urban housing crisis?

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Building houses is massively wasteful. During the construction process, building projects accumulate giant piles of garbage from off-cuts of lumber and drywall to pallets that carry materials and the packaging they come in. And once operating, homes consume huge amounts of energy.

“It turns out if you triage the world and you ask where are all these ecological health issues coming from, you get a surprising answer,” Jason Ballard, co-founder and president of ICON, says. “It’s not the gas guzzling SUVs and private jets; it’s buildings, especially homes. They are the number one consumer of energy by sector and the number two user of water.”

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This $10,000 3D printed house can be built in 24 hours and is bigger than a studio apartment

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One of the less obvious products being unveiled this week at SXSW is a small concrete house. On the outside, it doesn’t look like anything particularly special, although the covered patio and spacious windows are less common on tiny poured-concrete buildings.

That’s because the innovation isn’t in the structure or materials — it’s in the design and building. ICON, the company that builds the 650-square-foot house, claims it costs just $10,000 to build, and can be 3-D printed by a Vulcan printer in 12 to 24 hours using the most common building material on Earth.

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The War Over Exit Signs

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Word vs Icon. Which will win?

Should the US ditch the classic red “exit” sign and replace it with a green man? There are arguments both for and against. For the red:

The contrast between the letters and the background renders it highly legible, the illumination stresses the importance of the message, and the color is evocative of both fire and fire-safety devices (fire extinguishers, fire engines, fire alarms, and the like).

But in other parts of the world, pictograms rule. The “running man” sign was designed by Yukio Ota and adopted internationally for exits a quarter century ago!

The sign’s wordlessness means it can be understood even by people who don’t speak the local language. And the green color, they argue, just makes sense. Green is the color of safety, a color that means go the world over. Red, on the other hand, most often means danger, alert, halt, please don’t touch. Why confuse panicked evacuees with a sign that means right this way in a color that means stop?

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If Only Your Plant Could Talk…

If Only Your Plant Could Talk…

If you don’t take care of your plant, your plant will report you to the plant cops

Growing plants would be a lot easier if plants could show you what they need. That’s what the Pet Plant by Junyi Heo does. The very sleek looking pot measures soil conditions, temperature, humidity, and water – calculates those variables based on the needs of the plant, and displays its condition through the use of pictograms on an LCD display.

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