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Country's first 3D-printed housing community planned in California desert

Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Home and Consumer News

The company delivered its first 3D-printed panels last January and has created about 10 homes since, but the factory will pump out homes at a blistering pace going forward. It's currently backlogged through the rest of the year and secured $40 million in funding last month, which Dubov said will go toward scaling manufacturing capabilities.

For the Rancho Mirage project, the homes come as a kit and fit together like Lego bricks. Mighty Buildings is producing the interior and exterior walls, which come with connectors so they can be easily assembled onsite.

Starr said a typical project of this scale would take around three years, but they're planning for no more than a year and a half since his team can work on the foundations and roads in parallel with Mighty Buildings printing the material for the homes. He claims the houses will take one month to install as opposed to three to six months using traditional methods.

Palari emphasizes sustainability, and Starr said current homebuyers feel the same. In searching for a home-building partner for the project, he toured 20 factories but ended up pursuing Mighty Buildings for its trailblazing technology and UL certification.

A typical wood-framed house requires cutting the lumber down to size, and the leftovers often end up in a landfill, while 3D printers generate the exact material needed. In addition, the automated process uses 95% less manpower because robots create the panels.

"There hasn't been a focus on sustainability in construction. The only focus has been building cheaper, which has created this system of wood-framed construction," Starr said.

 

Coronavirus has slowed the project slightly, but it also opened up buyers to the possibility of living in a place like Rancho Mirage, which is typically known as a resort city with a rapidly shifting population depending on the season.

"The pandemic has shifted buyer preferences from condos to single-family homes. A lot of people are working from home and considering new locations such as Rancho Mirage, and that's adding to these homes' value," Starr said.

Beverly Hills-based Palari chose Rancho Mirage for its proximity to L.A. and the relatively cheap land, and the city itself was supportive of the company's sustainability goals. Going forward, Palari is planning communities elsewhere in the Coachella Valley as well as northern and central California and the San Fernando Valley.

"Our big focus is on California," Starr said. "It's the biggest single-family market in the world."

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