Posted On March 28, 2018
Among the multitude of innovative tech debuted at this year’s South by Southwest, was, what is believed to be, the first fully up to code 3D-printed house. The Vulcan printer was designed by Icon, a robotics construction company based in Austin, TX in collaboration with New Story, a Y Combinator-backed charity that works to provide shelter for people in emergency situations in developing nations. The Vulcan printer is able to produce 800-square-foot 3D-printed houses that are easy-to-replicate and inhabitable in less than 24 hours.
Icon and New Story joined forces to develop a way to quickly build easy-to-replicate homes at a low cost. Currently, the 3D-printed prototype costs around $10,000 to build, but the companies hope to drop the price down to $4,000 as development improves. Once the Vulcan prints the walls, construction laborers install glass for windows, a wooden roof, basic plumbing, and electrical wiring. The house can typically be inhabitable within one day.
To eliminate the cost of construction labor, Icon would like to develop robots that automatically install the windows and wiring, and even drones to spray paint exterior walls. Though, it is experimenting with ways to 3D print the roof, suspending the concrete as it prints will require more design.
Icon and New Story plan to take their concept to Haiti and El Salvador to provide housing for families who have suffered from natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. The 3D-printed houses have the potential to last longer than temporary emergency shelter. Icon cofounder Evan Loomis claims, “the strength of the printed walls is stronger than cinderblocks after a few days of hardening, although the house is entirely habitable right away.”