A demonstration model of a 3D-printed home has been unveiled in Austin, Texas, as part of the South by Southwest technology festival (SXSW).
First permitted 3D-printed home created for developing world
The 3D-printed building, which has been built by non-profit organisation New Story and construction technologies company ICON, is the first permitted 3D-printed home which has been created specifically for the developing world.
According to the BBC, around £7,000 worth of concrete was needed to construct the 35 square metre (380 square feet) building, which took 48 hours to complete.
Eventually, a house almost twice the size could be completed in as little as 12-24 hours for only $4,000 (just under £3,000).
Printer works like small 3D printer
The printer, dubbed the Vulcan, works in a similar way to a smaller 3D printer, using what is known as ‘additive processes’. In essence, this means layering material on top of itself over and over again, until what is being printed is created.
The Vulcan uses mortar in this way to create a house. The developers of this 3D-printed home say that nearly any 2D floor plan imaginable can be printed.
The printer has been designed to work in places such as Haiti or rural El Salvador, where issues such as an unpredictable power supply can cause problems and aims to tackle housing shortages for vulnerable populations, rather than building simply for profit. According to statistics, around 14% of the world’s population, that’s about 1.3 billion people, live in slums.
Our responsibility to challenge traditional methods
Brett Hagler, CEO of New Story, said that they feel that it is their responsibility to challenge traditional methods and “work towards ending homelessness”.
“Linear methods will never reach the billion+ people who need safe homes,” he continued.
By utilising 3D printing to build homes, the non-profit organisation says that it is able to reach more families with “the best possible shelter solutions” faster than ever before.
Jason Ballard, co-founder of ICON, describes this method of constructing houses as 10 times better than conventional construction methods.
Designed to function with “near zero-waste”
The printer has been designed to function with “near zero-waste” and is set on tracks, meaning that it can potentially build houses of infinite lengths. However, the height is restricted to 11ft (just over 3.3 metres) because of the size of its frame.
First community of homes hopefully printed over next 18 months
In the next 18 months, New Story and ICON are aiming to print the first community of homes for underserved families in El Salvador. They then hope to scale up production to more communities over the next few years.
BBC reporter Dave Lee, who visited the demonstration home earlier this week, described it as a “small but capable structure” which looked like it could “withstand extreme weather”.
The homes are expected to last as long or longer than standard Concrete Masonry Unit homes.