How 3D Printing Could Help Tackle Homelessness in LA

Emily Beyda
Emily Beyda is an L.A.-based novelist and the author of “The Body Double.”
How 3D Printing Could Help Tackle Homelessness in LA

Los Angeles is home to the second-highest largest homeless population in the U.S. While new resources have been allocated to creating housing during the pandemic, it's not enough. Tent cities crowd freeway underpasses and sit alongside neighborhoods.

For Berok Khoshnevis, this crisis represents an opportunity. Khoshnevis is a professor of engineering at the University of Southern California and has had a lifelong interest in the potential of 3D printing. Since the 1980s, he has been working with 3D printed machinery, with a special emphasis on the creation of large structures.


Lately, Khoshnevis has been turning his attention to automated 3D printing construction technology, an application he believes could be used to meet Los Angeles' dire need for new housing solutions.

His vision is off to a promising start: In 2020, he was awarded a project by the L.A. County Development Authority to build four low-income housing units. Given the push for housing in California (and the rest of the U.S.), Khoshnevis' project could be a bellwether for a new phase of affordable housing.

Printing Buildings on Demand

Khoshnevis has invented a new method of 3D printing structures called Contour Crafting. While in certain aspects 3D printing of structures is limited, and only able to use certain materials, the speed at which it enables you to build new structures with reduced labor is impressive.

For Khoshnevis, one of the most promising aspects of 3D printed building technology is the ability it creates for users to print buildings whenever, and wherever, the need for new construction arises.

"The intention is to print on site, which is the main potential of this technology," he said. "You have to have a foundation, and then the machine will build the structure from the ground up."

With a single user machine, the user prints each layer of the structure in sequence, pausing in between each layer to allow the substrate to dry.

"We can add chemicals to make sure the materials can cure more quickly," said Khoshnevis, meaning that whatever concrete material the user chooses to base their structure on will dry much faster than is typical for conventional construction processes.

The way the machine operates varies considerably depending on the demand of the build site, as well as the type of machine used.

"There are different machine designs that require different levels of preparation," explained Khoshnevis. "For example, we created a system for the government that allows a single person to set up the machine on site in fifteen minutes. The machine can use any kind of structural material that can be turned into paste, any form of concrete."

New Housing in Record Time

According to Khoshnevis, this method can cut the time needed to build by as much as half. Conventional construction methods are able to complete the framing process, building walls and a roof, in about a month or two.

"Typically for a thousand square foot building you should be able to print it in one day," said Khoshnevis. "At that point, you can add other components, such as HVAC and electrical. Right now, 3D printing can only create the shell of a building, but I have patented processes for automated plumbing and electrical insulation, as well as automated reinforcement."

With faster new technologies and a streamlined permitting process, contour crafted buildings could help dramatically close Los Angeles' housing gap, providing housing to the approximately 41,290 unhoused people living in Los Angeles County alone.

The Economics of New Housing

Although housing advocates were just given a massive infusion of new funding from the county, building as many new units of housing as possible within budget is always of paramount concern. And according to Khoshnevis, contour crafting technologies can help save money as well as time.

"This technology can be used to speed up construction and make it cheaper, saving money on labor costs while reducing material waste," he said. "Part of the cost-saving is in the speed of construction, but there's also a reduction in the amount of workers you need to hire, and lowered material costs."

As Khoshnevis points out, the price of land is often the largest expense in the construction of new public housing. Contour crafting can help save money here too, enabling builders to erect new units on lots that aren't suitable for conventional, large scale construction.

Los Angeles still has tens of thousands of vacant lots scattered throughout the city, many of them oddly shaped or difficult to access with construction machinery. But with a single operator contour crafting machine, builders could begin to take advantage of some of this unused space.

Dana Bean from Union Station Homeless Services agrees that innovative thinking is necessary if Los Angeles has any hope of addressing the homeless crisis.

"Los Angeles is in dire need of additional housing opportunities for our unhoused community members," she said. "We have seen some additional housing resources in the past months of the pandemic, including vacant hotels through project homekey and product roomkey, as well as palette shelters that are going up around the city that provide temperature controlled rooms with a door that locks. These interim housing solutions can provide a safe space for those in need of it."

Bean says that technologies like Khoshnevis' key utility is enabling housing first solutions oriented towards getting people off the streets.

"We're opening a tiny house village in Eagle Rock at the end of the year, and while we initially saw some community concern about the construction issue," she said. "But once people saw that the project would be taking people off the streets of their neighborhoods and giving them housing, they were incredibly grateful."

Ultimately, Khoshnevis says that he's interested in seeing the ways housing advocates put his contour crafting technology to use, adding that he believes this technology has the potential to change the face of the contemporary construction industry.

"Construction is the only domain of human endeavor that is still done manually," he said. "It is a very dangerous task, and many people are unable to participate in the industry due to physical limitations. 3D technology would allow more people to participate in the construction industry. One thing I can say for certain is that construction is not going to stay manual forever."

And with the potential of contour crafting technology, an automated solution to Los Angeles' housing construction crisis could be closer than we think.

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🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

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