3D-Printed Neighborhood

March 12, 2019
Silicon Valley startup and nonprofit New Story and Austin-based construction technology company Icon are taking on new-home construction and affordability by way of 3D printing.
Photo: Unsplash/Andrew Neel

Silicon Valley startup and nonprofit New Story and Austin-based construction technology company Icon are taking on new-home construction and affordability by way of 3D printing.

Icon's Vulcan II 3D printer can print a small home's frame in less than 24 hours, and later this year, it will print a neighborhood of more than 50 homes in a semi-rural Latin American community for families who earn less than $200 a month. According to Fast Company's reporting, Vulcan II builds walls and floors with layers of concrete in a day, with conventional roof, windows, and utilities to be completed the next day. 

In Haiti, where progress to rebuild after the 2010 earthquake was painfully slow, the nonprofit developed a new process to build more efficiently. But it realized that the pace of traditional construction would always hamper its ability to address the global need for better housing. After analyzing various options to speed up construction and decrease costs–including prefab homes–the team realized that 3D printing could be a viable solution. In late 2017, they began working with Icon, funding the R&D work necessary to develop the machine.

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