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Muscatine Considers 3-D Printed Homes for Economic Development

A 2017 study found that 61 percent of workers commute into Muscatine County, Iowa, daily because they were unable to afford closer housing. Using reinforced concrete and large-scale 3-D printing may be a solution.

The Downtown Historic District of Muscatine, Iowa.
The Downtown Historic District of Muscatine, Iowa.
(TNS) — One of the biggest issues in Muscatine, Iowa, is the lack of housing which impacts factors including employment and education. A 2017 study by RDG Planning and Design showed 61percent of people commute into Muscatine County daily because they are unable to find a place to live closer to their workplace.

With new plans and some cutting-edge technology, Muscatine's leaders hope to solve the housing problem with its latest strategy. On Tuesday, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine held a press conference at the Muscatine Community College's Student Services Building.

Foundation President Charla Schafer and Muscatine Community College President Dr. Naomi DeWinter discussed how they, local and state organizations will work together in order to print new Muscatine homes using reinforced concrete and large-scale 3-D printing technology.

"Housing is foundational and intersectional," Schafer said about the importance of projects such as these. "When you have a supply side failure in your community, unaffordable or unattainable housing has a cascading effect on the economics, education and health of our neighbors and our children."

With at least 10 3-D printed houses planned for various lots around Muscatine and six of these homes being part of the Muscatine Center for Social Action's neighborhood revitalization project, the first of these new houses are scheduled to be printed by March 2023, with Hagerty Earthworks as general contractor and Iowa-based company Alquist 3D the sub-contractor.

According to DeWinter, Muscatine County is expected to be one of the first locations in Iowa to utilize 3-D printing as a housing solution. With collaboration from Iowa State University, MCC's latest program will train students to become certified in 3-D printing, resulting in a strong local construction workforce that can grow over time. "This is innovation, hands-on training and sustainability all in one," she said.

Schafer added that with the Community Foundation Board of Directors' approval of these first 10 3-D printed homes for 2023, consideration was established for printing a similar or increased amount of homes in each of the two consecutive years following.

"We know that these homes may reduce the upfront costs of home-ownership and they will reduce related home energy costs ongoing," Schafer continued, stating the first of these homes will be around 1,300 sq. ft. and will be a 3-bedroom, 2-bath model.

Also present at the press conference were Sen. Mark Lofgren, Muscatine County supervisor Santos Saucedo, Scott Dahlke, Muscatine Center for Social Action, Muscatine Mayor Brad Bark, Community Development Director Jodi Royal-Goodwin, Muscatine Schools Superintendent Clint Christopher, Muscatine County Habitat for Humanity President Don Lampe, Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Pete Evans from Iowa State University, and Zach Mannheimer, Founder and CEO of Alquist 3D.

Each of these guests gave their own statements regarding the housing project, making up what DeWinter referred to as a "power team" able to provide valuable expertise, research, collaboration efforts, training and other resources for the upcoming series of 3-D printed homes.

"As an ambassador of the City of Muscatine and an ambassador of the businesses of Muscatine, I am extremely supportive of increasing our housing stock," Bark said.

"No state in America has laid claim to the 3-D printing movement," Mannheimer said. "There's only a handful of states that have 3-D printed houses in them, less than a dozen. Iowa is well on our way to doing this, and (Alquist 3D) are happy to be a small part in contributing towards making Iowa the home base for 3-D printing."

(c)2022 Muscatine Journal, Iowa. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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