It’s been proven time and time again that 3D printers can be used to make a lot of cool things: medicinal pills, prosthetic limbs for animals, artistic baking tools and, as one enterprising young college student showed us, even Invisalign-style braces! We can now add affordable housing to that list too, thanks to Austin-based startup Icon.
The company recently debuted a prototype for a home that can be constructed in a single a day and for less than the cost of a new car — and it’s all because of a 3D-printing robot called the Vulcan.
The Process Of 3D Printing A House
Icon claims it can build an entire single-story home in the span of 24 hours. But how is that even possible?
First, the Vulcan robot constructs the floors, walls and ceilings of the house by printing layers of cement on top of each other. The Vulcan is a massive, 2,000-pound machine that layers the concrete in a precise way, spitting it out through a large hose. After that, a human team finishes up by installing the home’s windows, doors, plumbing and electrical wiring via conventional construction methods.
The end result is an 800-square foot house that boasts a bedroom, bathroom, living space and even a wraparound porch—all for the low price tag of $10,000. (Although Icon says it hopes to bring that cost down closer to $4,000.)
Where Are These Homes Being Built?
Considering that many tiny homes cost roughly the same as Icon’s model home but only offer a fraction of the space, these affordable cement-based homes seem like they could be a game-changer in the expensive U.S. housing market.
However, while Icon says it may bring more of its 3D-printed homes to America in the future, the company is currently focused on building affordable housing in poverty-stricken places around the developing world. The company has already constructed dwellings in Haiti, Bolivia and El Salvador and, after partnering up with a San Francisco-based housing nonprofit called New Story, plans to build 100 more houses in El Salvador next year.
Check out the YouTube video below for a complete tour of Icon and New Story’s 3D-printed model home in Texas.
If Icon succeeds, perhaps one day its technology may help print 3D homes on other planets.
What do you think of homes built using 3D-printing technology?