I remember first hearing about the ingenuity of 3D printing almost ten years ago, and in that case a young company was designing and building furniture. Over the years, the method has taken off!
3D printing has come a long way and prompting evolution in fields such as fashion, medicine, and construction. It is changing the way people live – survive even. How? A partnership between non-profit New Story and construction technology firm Icon is creating homes for people for $4,000.
New Story is a charity that works to provide shelters in developing countries around the world. They teamed up with Icon to come up with a way to build sustainable houses with inexpensive materials. Icon built a custom 3D printer called the Vulcan that is able to print an entire home in 24 hours!
To get the global project off the ground, they worked together to make a prototype of a home. In spring 2018, Austin-based Icon unveiled the small 3D-printed house, which is the first permitted version of its kind in America.
Walls are made from a concrete mixture that includes cement and plasticizers, and Icon’s innovative technology allows for the machine to follow blueprints to build these tiny houses. According to Wired, the Vulcan only requires 240 volts of electricity to run, which equates to the power needed to run a clothes dryer.
The structure’s sizes are an average of 600 to 800 square feet, but the printer is capable of building walls of varied dimensions. The model home also includes a porch and separate bathroom, two features that are part of the plan for the habitats built abroad.
The current goal for New Story and Icon is to build an entire community of these homes in El Salvador, and by 2019, 100 houses will be available for families to move into. The organization has been helping to build homes in Haiti, Bolivia, and El Salvador with the help of donors, but these 3D houses are the first of their kind.
Working with a company like Icon – who also has a socially conscious slant – will allow New Story to expand their efforts into other places where housing is a challenge, and that includes right here in the US. In addition to their test project for NASA, it is possible that Icon will be working projects in America next.
Fortunately, Icon has raised $9 million in venture capital funding to go towards addressing the world’s housing crisis and their partnership with New Story is a wonderful start. The company’s CEO stated:
“It’s our mission at Icon to re-imagine the approach to homebuilding and construction and make affordable, dignified housing available to everyone throughout the world.”
Icon is already working on another Vulcan design to be able to keep up with 3D printing housing needs. For those who want to donate to New Story for the homebuilding projects around the world, check out their website.
This video will give you an idea of what is to come for thousands – possibly millions – of people who lack adequate shelter around the world. Built from strong materials in a short of amount of time for a fraction of the cost of a new home, we say it’s a win.