Oakland startup Mighty Buildings is already building up hopes for additive construction in the U.S. After garnering a great deal of attention in the past year for its “beautiful, sustainable and affordable” 3D printed homes, the company has secured its second round of funding, a Series B that raised $40 million from Khosla Ventures and Zeno Ventures, with more than a dozen other investors participating.
Though Mighty Buildings is four years old, it only came out of stealth in August 2020, touting such claims as the ability to 3D print buildings “two times as quickly with 95% less labor hours and 10-times less waste” in comparison to traditional construction techniques. Ryno Blignaut from Khosla believes that costs and CO2 emissions associated with home building can be reduced by over 50 percent.
This is in part due to a thermoset composite the startup has developed called Light Stone Material. Given the massive carbon footprint of concrete and steel in the construction industry, alternatives are necessary. The company also claims that, because this material dries so quickly, it’s possible to 3D print overhangs and ceilings without relying on support. If so, this is a significant improvement over other additive construction businesses. The startup also suggests that the use of robotic arms can be used to perform post-processing work on the building, along with the automation of insulating the structure, resulting in the potential to make construction 80 percent automatic.
So far, Mighty Buildings has been building accessory dwelling units, but is now moving onto larger structures of 864 to 1,440 square feet at prices of $304,000 to $420,500. They combine prefab elements, such as bathrooms, with a 3D printed shell. Later this year, it even has plans to kickstart its B2B product directed at developers looking to 3D print multi-story buildings and single-family homes, the latter of which it has already signed some contracts for.
At the moment, Mighty Buildings is focused on construction in its home state but is looking at locations where it can recreate its factory model. It will have plenty of competition, however, as the industry is quickly growing. While many companies, such as ICON and COBOD, use technology for 3D printing structures on-site, Mighty Buildings relies on producing components in its factory, similar to WinSun. This is certainly a more controllable method for printing, as structures aren’t exposed to the elements during construction. Apis Cor, for instance, ran into issues while building in Dubai. It also makes it easier to incorporate other prefab elements into the building if they’re all produced and staged in the same location.
In our recent article on how 3D printing is being pitched as a solution to the affordable housing crisis, Peter Cohen, Co-director at the Council of Community Housing Organizations, explained that additive construction is actually a construction solution to what is more of a policy problem when it comes to affordable housing. However, he also noted that there is a place for creating small homes and ADUs in the yards of landowners that could open up some less-expensive housing. Mighty Buildings may be one firm poised to tackle this niche as it offers a variety of 3D printed structures (ADUs, single-family homes, over-the-garage units, etc.).
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