When you hear "3D-printed home," you may envision a far-fetched, futuristic concept. Thanks to Icon (opens in new tab), a construction company that uses 3D printing, and non-profit New Story (opens in new tab), though, the concept is quickly becoming a reality—and may be a major advancement in creating affordable homes for underserved communities.
According to Icon (opens in new tab), the first permitted, 3D-printed home is just 350 square feet, and located in Austin, Texas (opens in new tab). The tiny home (opens in new tab) serves as "proof-of-concept for sustainable homebuilding that will allow for safer, more affordable homes for more families, faster than ever," per a press release. (opens in new tab)
The printer used for the home, the Vulcan, is designed with common constraints in mind for places such as Haiti and rural El Salvador—unpredictable power, little technical assistance, and potable water not guaranteed. Brett Hagler, CEO of New Story, said (opens in new tab), "We feel it's our responsibility to challenge traditional methods and work toward ending homelessness. By working with Icon and leveraging their 3D printing innovations, we're able to reach more families with the best possible shelter solutions, exponentially faster."
3D printing for homes offers advantages that may not be available in conventional construction methods. Jason Ballard, co-founder of Icon, says that they offer nearly zero waste, but that's not all. "...You also have speed, a much broader design palette, next-level resiliency, and the possibility of a quantum leap in affordability. This isn't 10 percent better, [it's] 10 times better."
The Austin home was printed in less than 48 hours, according to New Story's website, but the company says it aims to get faster "as the technology progresses." Check out this video to see the first tiny home being printed:
Eventually, the company's goal is to print homes in less than 24 hours. The Austin home cost around $10,000 to create (the printed portion only), but Icon and New Story hope to create similar homes (opens in new tab) for as low as $4,000.
New Story and Icon plan to break ground on the first 3D-printed community in history this summer. We can't wait to see.
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Maya McDowell is an Assistant Editor at HearstMade.
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