Goods made via 3D printers have become all the rage in the last few years as engineers seek to produce a wider variety of goods from the technology, both from varied materials and on a bigger scale. The incredible tech is now being put to use in one of the most practical applications to date – home building. Housing insecurity has long been an issue the world over, but it’s possible that the low cost involved with 3D-printed homes will help the most vulnerable get the shelter they need. ICON, a startup situated in Austin, Texas, has been working to find a solution to the growing need for more affordable housing.
The world over, many of the cheapest shelters are thrown together with little more than flimsy corrugated tin. ICON has figured out a method for building a cement dwelling via 3D printing in only one to two days. Alongside a nonprofit devoted to fighting to end homelessness, New Story, ICON is planning a modest development of 100 houses as an experimental community in the next year. “We have been building homes for communities in Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia,” the co-founder of New Story, Alexandria Lafci, explained to The Verge.
Though the current cost of a one-story, 3D-printed home costs about $10,000, the company plans to find a way to make them only $4,000 each. Even at their current price point, however, ICON’s homes cost a fraction of what a regular house or apartment costs. At about the size of an average New York City apartment, residents would find the home boasts a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and even a front porch. “There are a few other companies that have printed homes and structures,” said Ballard, one of the founders of ICON. “But they are printed in a warehouse, or they look like Yoda huts. For this venture to succeed, they have to be the best houses.”