Printable homes represent the latest wave in construction, but they’re not always cheap or easy to build.
In March, New Story, a housing nonprofit based in San Francisco, and Icon, a construction-technology company that designs 3D printers, defied these stereotypes by producing a $10,000 tiny home in just 48 hours.
Icon called the structure “the first permitted, 3D-printed home in America.”
At 350 square feet, the house was far cheaper than the average tiny home, which has a price tag hovering at around $25,000, but can often reach six figures. Before using 3D-printing technology, it took New Story eight months to build 100 homes, each costing about $6,000.
While the prototype was being developed, Icon’s printer, known as the Vulcan, was running at only 25% speed. That gave the companies confidence that they could build a 600- to 800-square-foot home in just 24 hours for $4,000 or less.
When it comes to producing an average-sized home — around 2,000 square feet — the savings aren’t quite as stark. A year after releasing its $10,000 prototype in Austin, Texas, Icon told the Wall Street Journal that printing a 2,000-square-foot home would cost around $20,000.
More remarkable is the fact that the company’s upgraded printer, the Vulcan II, is now available for purchase, and could soon be used to produce affordable homes in places like Austin and Latin America.
Icon’s first 3D model offers a glimpse of what the machine could produce in the future. Take a look.
The printer churns out layers of cement, which amass to form the walls of the home. Non-printed fixtures like doors and windows are installed later.
The Vulcan II is capable of producing walls that are up to eight-and-a-half feet tall and up to 28 feet wide.
The Vulcan II is operated by a tablet, which means only a few workers are required to produce a 3D home.
The home’s cement mixture is also able to withstand extreme weather conditions.
Icon and New Story plan to produce more than 100 homes in El Salvador, a country whose rough terrain and frequent floods have made housing construction difficult.
New Story is seeking $1 million to print the homes, CNN reported last year.
From there, they hope to provide safe homes to some of the 1.3 billion people around the world residing in slums.
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