Could building a house become as easy as printing off a photocopy? One charity called New Story and Icon, a robotics construction company in Austin, Texas are building 3D-printed houses in developing nations. The homes are all up to local codes and are safe for people to inhabit full-time, plus, they are built really easily and quickly thanks to technology. The homes can actually be built in just 24 hours because of the easily replicated home designs. The building will begin in places that need more housing like Haiti and El Salvador, and they will be around 800 square feet costing only around $10,000, but that price could go down to $4,000. They use a Vulcan printer that was developed by Icon, and their first printed house is in Austin. The Vulcan printer is huge, but it's portable so they can take to on location to print the modules that will build the home. The homes are built out of a special concrete that is soft in the machine but hardens during the printing process. It's laid out in 100 on inch-thick strands that are said to be stronger than cinderblocks which could be perfect for places that are prone to natural disasters.
Each home design will include at least one bedroom, a bathroom, a living room, kitchen and an office or second bedroom. Once the home is completely built, contractors come to install the windows, a roof, plumbing, and electrical which takes less than a day. Icon is even considering creating robots that could do all of this finishing work too. Also, they would like to be able to develop a way to print the roofs of the homes too. These companies in Texas aren't the only companies developing a 3D printed house; there is another company in Russia called Apis Cor. Although Icon's 3D printed house is the first one that has been approved by the government. Even though these homes are being aimed at housing crises in other countries, the companies are also intending to make the affordable homes available in the United States where there is also a severe housing shortage. There needs to be an answer to the housing shortage, and this could be one of them.
The way it would work is that the company would have designs that people could choose from or they could create their own home designs. Then, the floorplan would be created and a template for the 3D printer. Then, the printer would be brought to the building site, and the home would be printed and constructed within a day. The finishing touches would be added in another day, and then the home could be ready to move into and start living in the next day. Usually, people need to wait months, even years before their home is built, so this new development really cuts down the wait time meaning families get in homes sooner. It also means less construction waste and also less of a need for the weather to cooperate. It's much like prefab building but technology-enhanced and there is no need for a ton of transportation either which saves money and also reduces emissions. With more innovations coming out like this one, it's possible that we could even put an end to homelessness and make things a lot easier for younger generations. Currently, the average house size is about 2,000 square feet, and the median price of a home in the US is around $200,000 depending on where you look. In major cities, it's even impossible to find something at this price, so some affordable housing is definitely needed. Their goal is to print some homes in El Salvador in 2018 to create an entire community of 3D printed homes in 2019.