A Tennessee startup company's 3D printing technology could enable builders to create strong, lightweight structures while dramatically cutting costs.
Branch Technology, based in Chattanooga, uses a technique called cellular fabrication to print matrices that serve as the internal structure for buildings.
A matrix weighing 2.5 pounds and complemented with spray foam, for example, can support nearly 3,000 pounds, and the process could reportedly reduce construction costs from thousands of dollars per square foot to as little as $80.
Conventional 3D printing gradually applies layers of plastic to create a structure; cellular fabrication, by contrast, prints a combination of plastic and carbon fiber into solid building material.
The system can create a structure up to 25 feet wide and 58 feet tall at the construction sites themselves.
"We fit them together like big Lego blocks on site," founder and CEO Platt Boyd told Fortune.
Once printed, builders can add concrete, insulation or other materials to the structure.
"It’s the real deal,” Boyd said.
Branch thus far raised just more than $900,000 in funding and hopes to acquire another $1.5 million. The company is also sponsoring a home design competition in an effort to apply the technology at scale.