This 3D-Printed Home Is Absurdly Cheap — And It Could Help Solve Homelessness

"...[The] tech is ready now to print very high-quality, safe homes in the places we're building."

Since its introduction into the mainstream, 3D printing has helped to innovate the worlds of fashion and medicine. It's even helped improve upon the selfie

Now, thanks to housing nonprofit New Story and construction technologies company ICON, the remarkable technology could help solve the problem of homelessness around the globe. 

With rising global poverty and millions being displaced by natural disasters, New Story started searching for ways that it could provide help on a larger scale. "There are over 100 million people living in slum conditions in what we call survival mode," Alexandria Lafci, New Story's co-founder and COO, told Wired. "How can we make a big dent in this instead of just solving incrementally?" Looking to solve the problem, the nonprofit paired with ICON for the past 10 months to design a 3-D printer that could be used to build homes in regions where the funds to house those in need are scarce. 

On March 12, the two companies unveiled the results of their hard work: a 350-foot structure in Austin, Texas, that happens to be the first 3D-printed home in the country to be built up to local housing code. Though the house isn't like the homes most in the U.S. are accustomed to, it is a prototype and example of the housing that New Story hopes to bring to poverty-stricken communities in countries like Haiti, El Salvador, Mexico and the United States.

"It will take many years before 3D-printed homes are printing the types of homes that you and I would live in, but the tech is ready now to print very high-quality, safe homes in the places we're building," Lafci said to Wired.

"It will take many years before 3D-printed homes are printing the types of homes that you and I would live in, but the tech is ready now to print very high-quality, safe homes in the places we're building," Lafci said to Wired.

Right now, the Vulcan printer that ICON developed in conjunction with New Story can print a shelter in 12 hours for a cost of $10,000, according to Designboom. The companies hope to get the cost down to $4,000 soon. After testing out the Austin prototype, the companies plan to bring the printer to El Salvador and begin building their first 3D-printed community later this year.

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