ICON, a start-up creating sustainable buildings, unveiled its first US permitted, 3D printed house at South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference & Festivals in Austin, Texas. The start-up has now joined hands with New Story, San Francisco-based non-profit organization which works for constructing holistic communities in developing countries. The team calls this home as a participatory design.
The start-up created a mobile printer, Vulcan that can print a single-story 600 -800 square-foot house out of cement in 12 to 24 hours. It is comparatively smaller time than traditional construction time and would cost lesser than $4,000 post some R&D.
ICON has given a unique design to the printer, much to meet the needs of New Story working environment. The machine is built to fit on a truck so one can transport it to remote locations such as Haiti, El Salvador, Bolivia. It is durable and works under harsh environmental conditions. The printer uses a mortar as the primary material and the concrete foundation is the same as the ones New Story has been installing in remote areas for its original houses. Presently, the design team is working on lowering the cost of the printer – as low as $100,000. There is no significant data on the capacity of the machine and the company is estimating around 1,000 homes per printer to make the invention affordable and worth.
In the previous year, the Russian company Apis Core invented a printer that could build a house within 24 hours. That house shaped like an igloo in orange color and was priced at about $10,000.
Nearly one billion people in the world are homeless. It will take decades to resolve this issue given its slow pace. Bringing in technology may help to reach the masses in a faster time and at an affordable cost. Advancements in robotics, software, and materials can add to the quality of the houses and use fewer resources.
ICON has now shifted its office base to the 350 sq. ft. 3D printed sample structure located in the backyard of Austin to check the viability of the designs. The 3D printed house has a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and a curved porch. The roof is not 3D printed. ICON characterizes the structure as resilient, energy-efficient, safe and comfortable. They would test the material and tweak the design if needed. The production aims for minimal waste production.
If everything goes as planned, New Story would build a community of 50 homes in El Salvador later this year. Traditionally, it takes approximately eight months to construct a 100-homes community, given the constraints – water, power and labor. It is expensive as well since it costs $6,000 per house. With 3D printed houses, the non-profit firm can create one house in a day. The project also wants to create a lot of job opportunities in the lines advanced homes manufacturing.
So, the poorest of the poor can get primary access to stay in the first 3D-printed homes, instead of a Hollywood celebrity! Isn’t this what technology is meant for? Creating an advanced, inclusive, and sustainable lifestyle for a larger community.