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AMS Spring 2023

New Story and ICON Working Together to 3D Print Homes in the Developing World

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Other than searching for what felt like years to find the perfect one and then signing more paperwork than I’ve ever seen on a single table, the act of getting our first house was not terribly difficult. But this is not always the case, especially for people living in developing countries. 3D printing is often called into action to help people in the developing parts of the world, particularly when it comes to finding a safe place to live. The technology is being explored globally for solutions to house those in need, as 3D printing up to building codes becomes viable and structures are able to be built in 24 hours.

Non-profit organization New Story and ICON, a recently launched construction technologies company, are working together to transform homelessness around the world by 3D printing homes in a day for people in under-served communities. The project’s first permitted, 3D printed home for the developing world was just introduced in Texas by the two companies.

“We feel it’s our responsibility to challenge traditional methods and work toward ending homelessness,” explained Brett Hagler, CEO of New Story. “Linear methods will never reach the billion+ people who need safe homes. By working with ICON and leveraging their 3D printing innovations, we’re able to reach more families with the best possible shelter solutions, exponentially faster.”

New Story, currently working in Bolivia, Mexico, Haiti, and El Salvador, is on a mission to help create a world where no one has to constantly live in survival mode. By partnering with ICON and using 3D printing technology to build homes, the non-profit will be one step closer to its goal, while also utilizing 3D printing to make affordable, customizable, sustainable, and well-built homes a possibility for those in developing parts of the world.

Jason Ballard, ICON Co-Founder, said, “Conventional construction methods have many baked-in drawbacks and problems that we’ve taken for granted for so long that we forgot how to imagine any alternative. With 3D printing, you not only have a continuous thermal envelope, high thermal mass, and near zero-waste, but you also have speed, a much broader design palette, next-level resiliency, and the possibility of a quantum leap in affordability. This isn’t 10% better, it’s 10 times better.”

ICON worked with New Story to develop a portable 3D printer, dubbed the Vulcan, that can build homes in places where features like power, easily accessible technical assistance, and potable water are unpredictable and not guaranteed. The Vulcan 3D printer was designed to work with near zero-waste, in order to, as a company press release puts it, “tackle housing shortages for vulnerable populations instead of building with profit motivation.”

According to New Story’s website, “One billion people live without a basic human need: shelter. Linear improvements will never reach this market. We need a quantum leap in affordability, speed, and quality to reach families exponentially faster.”

The 3D printed home that ICON and New Story just unveiled in Austin is a proof-of-concept for sustainable home-building that will build safer, more affordable homes for more people at a faster rate than ever before – the Vulcan is capable of 3D printing a 600- to 800-square-foot home, for $4,000, in less than 24 hours in an under-served community.

ICON has also developed some new materials for this project, which have been tested to widely recognized standards of comfort, resiliency, and safety.

In the next 18 months, New Story hopes to 3D print the first full community of homes for under-served families in El Salvador, using ICON’s advanced materials and the Vulcan 3D printer. Then, with the help of new partnerships, the goal is to scale up production in order to serve more communities in the coming years.

New Story is seeking $600,000 in funding by April 13th in order to tackle the next phase of R&D, and $400,000 in pre-funding to help with the costs of the planned 100 3D printed homes in El Salvador. This money will help with transporting the Vulcan to El Salvador, as well as pay for engineering improvements to the 3D printer, software development, on-site training, and testing.

This R&D project will teach the team to learn and iterate their 3D printed home designs, and then share the technology with others, in an effort to influence the whole sector to help each other improve and provide help to families in need.

Additional partners who helped develop the Vulcan 3D printer include Yaskawa Electric, the University of Texas, TreeHouse, Pump Studios, Linestar Automation, Andrew Logan Architecture, and Alchemy Builders.

What do you think of this project? Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Images: New Story]

 

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