The Highlights of ICON’s Feature on 60 Minutes

Futuristic rendering of building on the lunar surface.

In the business of construction technology, it’s rare to find a media event that’s mainstream enough to share with your family group chat.

On Sunday Oct. 4th, Shadow portfolio company ICON was featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes.

Suffice to say, the family chat was en fuego!

The 22-minute feature covered some serious ground: ICON’s origin story as Jason Ballard’s religious vocation, on-site footage of ICON’s 3D printed process, NASA/ICON’s partnership to use autonomous construction technology to colonize the Moon, and for good measure, some philosophical/transhumanism discussion about building design and construction.

Damn. What an inspiring watch.

It’s quite easy in the business of seed stage company building to get lost in the tactical day-to-day affairs and forget your larger purpose.

The built environment, and the individuals devoting their careers to it, need better tools to solve critical modern problems like housing, failing infrastructure, decarbonization, and the skilled labor shortage. The stakes couldn’t be bigger.

ICON is one such tool. There are hundreds more in the waiting, ready to be invented by entrepreneurs.

Do yourself a favor and get re-inspired about why construction technology is vital this evening.

Here are the time-stamped highlights from the 60 Minutes interview that I particularly enjoyed:

  • 1:30 – A tour of the first completed 3D printed model home in Texas
  • 2:18 – How does it work? On-site footage of the process of 3D printing a home
  • 3:45 – Why do we need a paradigm shift in housing?
  • 4:18 – A 3D printed wall vs. a traditional stick built wall (disrupting supply chains and waste)
  • 5:35 – Jason Ballard’s origin story from (almost) Episcopal priest to founding ICON
  • 7:49 – ICON’s first attempt at printing a 350 sq ft. home for SXSW
  • 11:13 – Initial use cases for ICON’s 3D printers
  • 12:35 – 3D printing on the moon
  • 14:24 – NASA’s MMPACT program (Moon to Mars planetary autonomous construction technologies)
  • 15:30 – NASA gives ICON $57M for Project Olympus.
  • 15:41 – The fundamental challenges of building materials in space
  • 16:42 – High intensity laser printing (at 1500 degrees Celsius!) vs. concrete printing
  • 18:00 – Engineering the landing pad
  • 20:15 – (back to earth…) Experimenting with radical home architecture and interior designs
  • 20:46 – On the balance of projecting vision, while not falling victim to hype, when a technology doesn’t exist yet…
  • 21:29 – Ballard on how AI, robotics, and software will autonomously design, build, and manage the buildings of the future
  • 21:50 – Ballard on the transhumanism view of housing


Nick Durham

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