ICON, an Austin based company dedicated to creating sustainable and quality homes through 3D printing, is partnering with New Story, a non-profit that works to find solutions to international housing issues. The result is breathtaking. Unveiled in March 2018 in Austin, the 650 sqft house was printed out of cement in less than 24 hours. It was the first 3D printed home that was fully up to code, and deemed by the government to be permitted for human inhabitants.
ICON creates these homes using a printer called the Vulcan, which looks like a crane, and has an axis giving it flexibility. The Vulcan pours a concrete mix into a software-dictated pattern, building the home from the ground up, one layer at a time. Although the Vulcan is quite large, it is portable and the team plans to take it on the road to meet the housing needs of underserved communities.
The square footage of the home may seem small for a family but it’s a big improvement to the shacks that litter the slums of many communities across the world. The homes are built to International Building Code structural standards and are expected to last as long or longer than standard concrete masonry homes. The ICON/New Story collaboration plans to create 100 homes for residents in El Salvador by next year. Using a 3D printer means the company can cut down on material waste and labor costs. The current price tag of $10,000 is inexpensive for a home but the team plans to cut that to a mere $4,000.
ICON is already looking into how this technology could be used besides meeting the needs our global housing crises. These 3D printed homes could also be used to create housing for communities who will one day live on other planets.
This creation is perhaps the most promising technology for human habitats in years.