01-08 ICON 3D-printed homes

[Image above] Two of 50 planned 3D-printed houses now stand in Tabasco, Mexico. The houses, constructed by Texas-based construction company ICON and nonprofit organizations New Story and ÉCHALE, will help families living in extreme poverty. Credit: ICON

For the housing sector, 2020 is poised to be a good year. Sales of new homes are expected to rise to a 13-year high of 750,000, and sales of existing homes likely will increase 3.7% to 5.56 million, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors, in a HousingWire article.

Although these predictions promise rosy earnings for real estate agents, the truth is these homes mainly benefit people who already live securely and are looking to move. For the 1.2 billion people living in cities around the world without access to secure housing, these thousands of new houses do nothing to alleviate their situation.

Cities around the world are struggling to solve growing affordable housing crises. As an article originally published in the Wall Street Journal reports, “Some countries have focused on solutions promoting unshackled free markets while others have turned more to rent control and subsidies. But no approach has solved the crises and most have other negative ripple effects.”

This situation creates a market for private companies to step in, and that is exactly what ICON, an Austin, Texas-based construction company, has done.

“Using proprietary 3D printing robotics, software and advanced materials, ICON is solving a plurality of problems in the contemporary building industry with their breakthrough technologies,” the company’s webpage explains.

In 2018, ICON was the first company in the U.S. to secure a building permit for and build a 3D-printed home, an achievement we reported on in CTT. The 650 ft2 concrete house they created served as a proof of concept for using 3D printing to confront affordable housing crises.

ICON partnered with New Story, a charity that builds homes for the poor, to continue testing and adjusting the materials and design to develop the perfect 3D-printed house. And now, after 18 months of planning, ICON and New Story just unveiled something big—two affordable 3D-printed homes in a groundbreaking development for Tabasco, Mexico!

The resilient, 500 ft2 homes were each 3D-printed in around 24 hours of print time across several days by ICON and feature final construction built out by ÉCHALE, New Story’s nonprofit partner in Mexico. The final planned community of 3D-printed houses will contain 50 homes in total and will be granted to local families currently living in extreme poverty and makeshift, unsafe shelters.

In the video below, take a look at the first two houses and learn about The Vulcan II, ICON’s specially designed 3D printer that is made to handle the rigors of remote, rural printing.

New Story has not revealed how much it costs to produce each house but announced it plans to finish the remaining 48 houses by the end of 2020. Once families move in, New Story says it will work with them to pay 20%–30% of their income, according to a CNN article.

Credit: New Story, YouTube