According to California-based John Burns Real Estate Consulting, just 16 percent of new housing properties were considered affordable in 2017 – down from 44 percent in 2010. Earlier this month, a company based in Austin, Texas looking to revolutionize homebuilding unveiled a 3D-printed home as a prototype to introduce Texans, as well as the rest of the world, to the future.
On March 12, ICON, a construction technologies company, unveiled the first permitted 3D-printed home in the U.S.A. The company collaborated with New Story, a non-profit that has been building houses for underprivileged communities in Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia. Together they developed a method for printing a single-story, 650-square-foot (60-square-meter) house in less than a day, at a total cost of $4,000.
The prototype 3D-printed home is made out of cement to make it easier for people to get used to, and make it more acceptable for the mainstream homebuilding industry. In that sense, the prototype house has also been tested to the most recognized standards of safety, comfort, and resiliency. The materials used are designed to function with nearly zero-waste and work with limited water, power, and labor infrastructure to tackle housing shortages.
Although the 3D-printer used to print a house is huge, it is still portable. It produces a custom-blend of concrete that hardens as it gets printed, then get laid in 100 strands that hold their shape as they harden. After the concrete walls are printed, New Story crew members install windows, a wooden roof, basic plumbing, and electrical wiring which can be drilled right into the walls, according to Quartz.
Potentially, ICON is aspiring to develop drones that could spray-paint the walls and robots that could automatically install the windows and the other elements after the printer finishes.
This would decrease construction time and costs by almost 50 percent, potentially providing safe, adequate, and attractive homes for almost 14 percent of the world’s population. “One billion people live without a basic human need: shelter,” New Story’s website reads. “Linear improvements will never reach this market. We need a quantum leap in affordability, speed, and quality to reach families exponentially faster.”