Last week over 200,000 housing and design professionals from across the globe flocked to Las Vegas – to experience more than 1,800 exhibitors — showcasing the latest housing products across some one million square feet of exhibit space.
The NAHB’s International Builders’ Show and NKBA’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Show make up the largest components of Design & Construction Week. “What an incredible way to celebrate 10 years of Design & Construction Week with this record attendance,” said NAHB CEO Jerry Howard. “Walking the show floor and attending the education sessions and networking events, you could feel the energy and enthusiasm from exhibitors and attendees alike. We knew this would be the event of the year for the housing industry, but this has even surpassed our expectations.”
“It’s truly remarkable what we have accomplished these past 10 years in our industry,” said Bill Darcy, Chief Executive Officer of NKBA. “Trade shows are back… you could feel the positive energy flow through the show floor.”
While Plantd was named Most Innovative at the Start-Up Zone, our team’s attention was acutely focused on Black Buffalo 3D Corporation, which was recognized with the NAHB Global Innovation Award Gold for its 3D printed construction technology.
3D Printed Houses Have Arrived
Proponents see 3D printing as a way to build homes faster, cheaper… and more sustainably. Just as Henry Ford used automation and assembly lines to transform auto manufacturing, the transition from traditional construction will also make production less expensive and more accessible. Yes, this technology has the potential to be the ultimate disruptor for the construction industry.
While it hasn’t been proven at scale… the potential certainly is worth considering. Yet as it stands now, a 3D printed house isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. 3D systems — particularly pump components — require manual tending. The mixes used to “print” must be monitored and adjusted to account for variations in humidity, air and water temperature. Weather and environmental adjustments — need to be made — to account for daily variables like wind, rain, and shade.
Despite the lack of some important standards, developers nevertheless are actively moving forward with 3D printed housing projects.
Lennar’s Genesis Collection at Wolf Ranch in Texas, executed by icon; Mighty Buildings’ Mighty House Quatro, Mighty House Super Quatro and Mighty House Two Story models in various developments in California and the Caribbean; and Diamond Age 3D-printed homes for Century Communities at Mountain View Estates in Arizona are three US 3D construction projects that are currently underway.
What Might 3D Printed Houses Mean for the Industry?
Depending on your perspective, these projects are either thrilling. Or ominous.
Regardless… what they really are, is on-the-runway of evolution. Perhaps even revolution. And it’s organizations like the NAHB that will help to guide our industry: Trades people to be retrained. Regulations to be written and adopted. Homebuilders, influencers and homebuyers who will need to be educated.
While it’s true that innovations such as gypsum sandwiched between two sheets of thick paper forced the skilled trade of plastering — to either become drywall hangers or starve — that happened gradually over time. 3D printed houses will upend the delicate choreography of home construction. And will affect a number of trades, manufacturers and suppliers all at once.
It’s vitally important to mitigate the disruption — while at the same time — not stand in the way of progress. By elevating Black Buffalo 3D with a Global Innovation Gold Award, the judging panel highlighted not only a technological leap forward… but also helped to set the stage for a genuine, industry-wide conversation about what this technology might mean as it moves from concept to reality. The time to plan for this disruption is now and smart planning is how to turn a threat into an opportunity.
To that end, another big announcement out of Las Vegas from the NAHB is the news that our own Steve Kleber has been appointed the new Chairman of the NAHB’s Global Opportunities Board. From his new position, Steve will be in a leadership position to help facilitate these and other important discussions.
Managing disruption is a vital part of marketing communication. Participating actively at trade shows like IBS and KBIS — and our involvement with professional organizations like NAHB — position the K&A team away from the sidelines… and thrust fully into the center of influence. If you’d like to talk further about how your brand promise can move at the speed of the realities of the ever-evolving building products channel, contact Steve at email@example.com to get the conversation started.