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D.R. Horton Invests in 3D Printing Robot Manufacturer Apis Cor

Apis Cor's 3D-printed concrete walls for a residential house in Melbourne, Florida.
Apis Cor
Apis Cor’s 3D-printed concrete walls for a residential house in Melbourne, Florida.

D.R. Horton, the largest company on the 2023 BUILDER 100 list, has invested in Apis Cor, a manufacturer of construction 3D-printing robotic technologies.

“Access to D.R. Horton’s extensive expertise and infrastructure can boost the adoption and scalability of our breakthrough technology in the market and help us make our technology available for every home building in the country sooner,” says Apis Cor CEO and co-founder Anna Cheniuntai.

The two companies said they will work together on a multi-unit construction projection in South Florida after the finalization of the new 3D-printed wall system, which Apis Cor estimates will result in “a significant increase in productivity.”

Apis Cor, one of the 25 finalists for the 2024 Ivory Prize for Housing Affordability, was founded in 2016 to address the labor shortages in the housing industry that impact home building’s ability to meet the growing demand for housing. While 3D printing provides the freedom to create different shapes and patterns, Cheniuntai says Apis Cor did not set out to “reinvent” the wall with its technology and printing process.

“We decided to make our walls [as] similar as possible to what is already being built in the industry. We tested our material in a third-party lab, [and] we tested the wall samples in independent labs,” Cheniuntai says. “We provided this data to home builders saying we build the same houses that have been built for hundreds of years. We have figured how to get the houses permitted for our specific technology, and all the houses we have printed are fully permitted.”

To date, the company has produced buildings that range from The Dubai Municipality in the United Arab Emirates—what is touted as the largest 3D-printed structure in the world—to a fully permitted, 2,200-square-foot single-family model home in Melbourne, Florida. The company’s 3D-printing technology aims to empower builders with advanced robotic solutions to help fill the gap in the limited pool of skilled labor, increase productivity, and build more houses.

“As of now, we are focused on single-family housing in the United States. That is where we aim to have the biggest impact,” Cheniuntai tells BUILDER. “Our mission is to empower everyone with our technology so they can increase productivity [and] so home builders can build more homes. If you have more houses and supply and demand start meeting each other, that will eventually drive the costs down.”

As part of the relationship with D.R. Horton, the home builder will provide advisory support to Apis Cor through its team of construction experts.

“As a strategic investor, we are always interested in highly innovative companies. We’ve seen many technologies in the space and are very impressed with what Apis Cor has achieved and demonstrated so far with their mobile, proprietary printer ‘Frank,’” says Brad Conlon, senior vice president of business development for D.R. Horton. “We look forward to what we can achieve together to expedite the commercialization of this promising technology.”

3D printing is a tool that can be utilized to help create more inventory and achieve greater affordability, according to Cheniuntai.

“The 3D-printing solution just by itself is not the [sole] solution to the affordable housing problem. We believe it’s an important piece of the puzzle to help home builders build more houses,” Cheniuntai says. “The more predictable the [building] process is, the more cost-effective builders can build and the faster they can build. We believe addressing the most labor-intensive part of construction—the wall structure, the shell of a house—will help [builders] get all subcontractors committed to the schedule so the house is built within the schedule that was originally planned.”

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