A collaboration between housing non-profit New Story and construction technology firm Icon aims to use 3D printing technology to house the homeless. While it’s early days yet, they hope to produce low-cost 3D-printed homes in El Salvador by late 2019.
New Story and Icon debuted an initial proof-of-concept model of a house that measures just 350 sq ft (32 sq m). It was created with a mobile 3D-printer developed by Icon named the Vulcan. The Vulcan functions much like other 3D printers used in construction and extrudes mortar out of a nozzle in a pre-programmed pattern, slowly building up layers until a basic house structure is formed. This is then finished by humans who add windows, a roof, etc.
The proof-of-concept model cost $10,000 to produce and took 48 hours to make, including the finishing touches.
The project is still quite early in development but as it progresses, New Story and Icon expect to reduce total printing time to 24 hours (the printer wasn’t working at full speed when the prototype house was made) and lower costs to $4,000. How such a big drop in price will come about isn’t made clear. Icon will also use the proof-of-concept house as its own office to get a better feel for how it performs.
Further into the future, the team aims to raise funding and build its 3D-printed homes in El Salvador in the next 18 months. All being well, it is hoped that people will actually be living in the 3D-printed homes by late 2019. This second iteration of 3D-printed dwellings will be a little more refined than the prototype model, measuring 600 – 800 sq ft (55 – 74 sq m) and including a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, bathroom, and a porch.