3D-concrete-printed, affordable housing focus of Penn State, HUD event

Industry innovators, Penn State leaders and U.S. Housing and Urban Development come together for a day-long event around innovative housing solution

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Several representatives from the regional office for the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department attended a public event hosted by Penn State on May 3 to discuss innovations around 3D concrete printing and the potential to alleviate strains in the housing market. The White House estimates that the United States has a shortage of as many as 4 million affordable housing units, and nearly 11 million families — a quarter of all renters — are already spending more than half their income on rent.

HUD Regional Administrator Matthew Heckles, Region 3, was a keynote presenter and several members in his office participated as panelists or attendees at the day-long event.

“We were excited to be part of this event, bridging agency, academia, industry and foundation members, to drive critical discussions around solutions for the housing crisis,” stated Heckles, who is responsible for the oversight and delivery of HUD programs and services throughout Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. “The opportunities here are immense — it is refreshing to see us come together to tackle these difficult but necessary topics.”

According to Realtor.com, 66% of consumers would consider living in a 3D-printed home, and for millennials, that number jumps to 75%.

“There is a great need for affordable housing and when it comes to speed, affordability and technology — 3D concrete printing is an impactful alternative to traditional housing. We’re so proud of Penn State’s leadership in 3D technology and look forward to being a part of this much-needed innovation in the housing market,” noted Geanie Umberger, associate vice president for Research and director in the Office of Industrial Partnerships at Penn State.

The event hosted several industry innovators in this field, such as Don Ajamain, CEO of Emergent 3D and his team; Zachary Mannheimer, founder and CEO of Alquist 3d; as well as Bruce Kraseelsky, founder, chair and CEO of XHab 3D, a startup based upon technology developed at Penn State, who also provided a tour and demonstration at X-Hab 3D’s high-bay facility. Attendees included agency and foundational groups from across the U.S., as well as various members of industry, such as Siemens.

The event also showcased Penn State’s capabilities to participate in 3D concrete printing technology and also drive innovations and solutions for national and global needs, as Penn State’s technology in 3D printing includes areas in healthcare, space exploration and more.

Penn State Interim Harold and Igne Marcus Dean in the College of Engineering Anthony Atchley, reflected on this mission. “As passionate stewards of our land-grant mission, we are driven to not only bring new technologies through the power of engineering and science, but also to be leaders in the ‘long game,’” he said. “This involves the navigation of hurdles such as building codes, the improvement of our supply chains and the implementation of these solutions in our communities.”

The event was coordinated by Penn State’s Office of Industrial Partnerships (OIP), a unit of the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research. OIP specializes in facilitating alignments between academia and industry to drive innovation and generate various forms of impact in science, scholarly work, entrepreneurship and commercialization, with actionable solutions implemented locally and globally.

According to Umberger, next steps will include a follow-up meeting with HUD and industry experts to discuss further progression of possible solutions for the housing shortage, as well as deeper dives into various technology options around 3D concrete printing for affordable housing.