Based company reveals plans for 3D printing affordable homes


Austin-based startup Icon unveiled its single-story 650-square-foot (60 sq m) house at the SXSW festival. It takes 12-24 hours to print each house, at a cost of around $4,000 a pop, which the company hopes to bring down from the current cost of $10,000. Vulcan's technology is a flawless match for ICON's vision as it was created to work in the worst of circumstances and places where things like potable water and technical assistance are lacking.

ICON and New Story also want to partner to construct a 3D printed community, comprising of 100 homes, in El Salvador next year.

The model, which the company showed off at tech and music fair South by Southwest this week, boasts a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and a curved porch.

Many industry experts say 3D printing is already revolutionizing the way products are created and will only continue to do so in the future. The companies are targeting the end of 2018 for the first homes to be printed and expect to have the first 3D printed community completed by 2019. According to Alexandria Lafci, co-founder of New Story, the charity has also been 3D printing homes for communities in Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia. "3D printing had been our on radar but it wasn't until we got connected to ICON that we felt it would be a feasible possibility".

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According to its website, the company wants to leverage the power of robotics and cutting-edge materials to "make major advancements in affordability, building performance and sustainability". The printers are capable of using any number of materials-including food, cement, and others-and creating a 3D structure.

"The walls of the printed house are stronger than cinder blocks after a few days of hardening", said Icon co-founder Evan Loomis, "although the house is ready for human occupation after the home is set up - which entails crew members installing windows, a wooden roof, basic plumbing, and electrical plumbing as the house is printed".

New Story explains on its website that previous year, the technology they needed to create homes quickly and cheaply wasn't available yet. A Silicon Valley-based company is using the technology in hopes of solving the financial housing crisis that has left a billion people without shelter. For this venture to succeed, they have to be the best houses... The technology also tends to reduce waste and manual labor costs.

"One of the big challenges is how are we going to create habitats in space", Ballard said. You're not going to open a two by four and open screws.