America’s First 3D-Printed Neighborhood to Pop Up in the California Desert

Stephanie Rogers
·3 min read

California’s population is growing so fast, the state needs up to 3.5 million new housing units by 2025. That’s a tough target to meet using conventional building methods, but recent advancements in 3D printing technology could speed up the process. An Oakland-based company called Mighty Buildings will soon demonstrate exactly how this could be done with a neighborhood of 15 3D-printed, eco-friendly homes on a five-acre site in Ranchero Mirage, near Coachella Valley.

Mighty Buildings' 3D Printed
Mighty Buildings' 3D Printed

Working in a style uniquely suited to the local climate, with flat roofs covered in solar panels, Mighty Buildings will use robotic automation to build what it says will be the first 3D-printed zero net energy neighborhood in the United States. The 1,450-square-foot, single-story homes will be extrusion printed using an ultra-strong stone composite material that’s termite-proof, fire-resistant, and water-resistant. The homes can be built twice as quickly as conventional constructions, too, with 95 percent less labor hours and 10 times less waste.

Breakdown of a 3D Printed Mighty Buildings housing panel.
Breakdown of a 3D Printed Mighty Buildings housing panel.

The $15 million collaboration with sustainability-focused developers Palari Group uses Mighty Buildings’ “Cinco” housing unit and will be built with the company’s panelized Mighty Kit system, which features 3D printed polymer composite panels prefabricated and shipped from Oakland. The panels are pre-assembled with framing, insulation, finishing, weatherproofing, and the stone-like exterior surface. Each Cinco kit features a customizable floor plan with an attached garage capable of charging an electric vehicle. The homes will feature photovoltaic panels from Tesla Solar and Powerwall.

The components for all of Mighty Buildings' 3D Printed homes are made at production facilities like this one.
The components for all of Mighty Buildings' 3D Printed homes are made at production facilities like this one.

The Mighty Buildings team says of the project: “Featuring textured exterior stone walls and floor-to-ceiling windows, each property will complement its natural surroundings with midcentury modern architecture and will consist of a primary residence of 1,450 square feet, comprising 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a secondary residence of 700 square feet comprising 2 bedrooms and 1 bath. Situated on a large 10,000-square-foot lot, each backyard will feature a swimming pool with deck and views of the surrounding mountains with plenty of space for lounging and desert star-gazing.”

“Homes will integrate DARWIN by Delos, a state-of-the-art wellness intelligence solution to help enhance human health and well-being by improving indoor air quality, and implement localized water filtration and circadian lighting. Other upgrade options include backyard amenities such as pergola decking, cabanas, hot tubs, fire pits, and outdoor showers.”

Mighty Buildings' 3D Printed
Mighty Buildings' 3D Printed

Since the Mighty Buildings system is pre-approved at the state level, getting this type of home approved and permitted through California’s strict standards is easier than average. The system can be built on just about any site and offers high thermal resistance and low maintenance. 80 percent of the production process is automated in a controlled environment within the company’s warehouses for high-quality results. In fact, the 3D printers are often set up to build the components overnight while the employees are asleep.

The company has already built a number of models in a range of sizes throughout the state, including its 350-square-foot studio and its 700-square-foot “Duo B” model. Two-story models with living space over a garage are also available. Each model has a clean, modern appearance.

Mighty Buildings' 3D Printed
Mighty Buildings' 3D Printed

“We could not be more excited for this groundbreaking collaboration with Palari and to be a part of the creation of the world’s first 3D-printed zero net energy community,” says Alexey Dubov, COO of Mighty Buildings. “This will be the first on-the-ground actualization of our vision for the future of housing – able to be deployed rapidly, affordably, sustainably, and able to augment surrounding communities with a positive dynamic.”