Recently I got the chance to speak with Dmitri Julius and Alexander Le Roux from Icon. If you haven’t heard, Icon is a startup that raise $35 Million A round led by Moderne Ventures to continue their progress developing the equipment and methodology for 3D printing buildings at scale.
Our initial scheduling got rained out. According to the head of communications at Icon, Brooke Baguess (who was instrumental in organizing our interview) filming after the rain is somewhat of an unintentional tradition for Icon. Also unintentionally, the day we had to reschedule for was 9/11. Coincidentally, Dmitri Julius had served in the US Marine Corps for 8 years earning the rank of sergeant starting in Feb 2003 only a year after the attack on the twin towers. I felt compelled to thank him and the rest of the troops/first responders for their service.
Dmitri still has the chance to interact with the US Marine Corps in his role as Vice President of Operations at Icon. In California, a project was completed to 3D print a ‘Vehicle Hide Structure’ that could serve to conceal a cargo or weaponized vehicle. Icon has an ongoing relationship with the military that should prove mutually beneficial for years to come.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes is the non-profit organization that Icon 3D printed these homes in Austin, TX. They’ve built a growing community of tiny homes that features an ICON made building as the welcome center. Homelessness is a rising issue in Austin, America, and around the world. ICON is poised to combat that with their technology. Dmitri mentioned that as Mobile Loaves and Fishes expands, ICON has stepped up to the plate and hopes to print many more homes for them in the future.
I asked Dmitri how his role at ICON changed pre and post funding. Dmitri expressed that at their startup no task is ‘beneath’ them and the team is willing to get their hands dirty on the job site when it’s needed.
Icon is on a bit of a hiring spree post funding and as they begin to fill those positions and the company expands the real changes will start to manifest. A big fundraise is huge for a startup but the effects are not fully realized until the money gets spent.
Next I spoke with Alexander Le Roux, a Co-Founder of Icon and also the CTO. Alex started his first 3D printed construction company in college called Vesta printers. He achieved a rudimentary design that demonstrated the ability to print concrete vertically high enough for a wall of a home.
After college he met Jason Ballard and Evan Loomis. Together the three of them founded Icon to take the technology to the next level.
Icon has developed a signature formula to print with that they call Lavacrete. It has a strength of 6000psi and as you can see in the building behind me (not even the latest version) it prints very smoothly. We constantly use the term ‘print’ to describe the automated pouring of concrete without any formwork, I can’t help but consider that in the mature stage of this presently niche industry companies may emulate the business model of paper printing companies and sell the printer at a loss to profit long term on the ink.
Alex and I talked a bit about the future of this technology. He mentioned how people tend to overestimate what can be done in a day but underestimate what can be done in 10 years. I wanted to know about projects on the horizon for Icon especially now that they have the funding to pursue bigger things and Alex said he can’t talk about it but I could tell he is very excited for what’s to come. If you have a project in mind that you’d like to do with Icon, Alex says to go to their website www.iconbuild.com and use their contact form. They won’t accept just any project but if it is a good fit they may be willing to work with you.
After our discussions I checked out one of the homes they built, I could only go in the living room at the time but it was very nice. It certainly had a tiny home vibe, the room actually featured a full kitchen as well. The space is well utilized and it doesn’t feel cheap like it would if it had been built with cinderblocks.
Check it out yourself at the link below.