Construction 3D PrintingDefense

ICON and Texas Military Department 3D print 3,800-sq-ft training barracks

The largest 3D printed structure in North America

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Construction 3D printing company ICON has unveiled its latest build, a 3,800-square-foot training barracks made in collaboration with the Texas Military Department (TMD). The building, which ICON reports as the largest 3D printed structure in North America, is designed to house 72 soldiers or airmen at TMD’s Camp Swift Training Center in Bastrop, Texas. The barracks will welcome their first inhabitants this fall.

The training barracks were 3D printed using ICON’s Vulcan construction technology and were designed by Logan Architecture, with structural engineering by Fort Structures. It is not the first time that ICON’s proprietary technology has been used for military purposes: a year ago, it participated in the production of a Vehicle Hide Structure at Camp Pendleton, initiated by a team of marines. The barracks does however mark the first collaboration between ICON, TMD and AFWERX, which came to fruition through an SBIR Strategic Fund Increase contract through AFVentures.

The barracks were printed using ICON’s next-generation Vulcan 3D printer and a proprietary construction material. Part of ICON’s mission is to produce housing and building structures in a more sustainable and efficient way. In this use case, 3D printed barracks have the potential to replace temporary barracks that have gone beyond their lifespan. “Guardsmen from all over Texas come to Camp Swift to train and to mobilize for deployments,” said Col. Zebadiah Miller, Director of Facilities at the Texas Military Department. “The printed barracks will not only provide our soldiers a safe and comfortable place to stay while they train, but because they are printed in concrete, we anticipate them to last for decades.”

The agility of ICON’s additive manufacturing process is another big benefit for military applications. That is, the U.S. military can use the 3D printing technology to quickly and efficiently produce housing and structures for its soldiers, both at home and abroad. In fact, the 3D printing process is being evaluated for use in the production of forward-deployed locations.

“It is an honor for the ICON team to work alongside TMD, AFWERX and the Defense Innovation Unit to have created these resilient, energy efficient 3D printed barracks that soldiers can now call home during their training,” added Evan Loomis, co-founder of ICON. “ICON continues our missional work to deliver dignified, resilient shelter for social housing, disaster-relief housing, market-rate homes, and now, homes for those serving our country. We are scaling this technology across Texas, the U.S., and eventually the world. This is the beginning of a true paradigm shift in homebuilding.”

ICON’s 3D printing system also has the potential to support humanitarian and disaster relief missions by the National Guard, specifically in the production of structures at efficient speeds and costs. In other words, the military could use construction 3D printing to rapidly erect infrastructure in disaster stricken regions.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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