World’s First 3D-Printed Neighborhood is Being Built

All over the world, poor families are missing one of life’s most basic needs: a home. New Story is a nonprofit organization developing innovative solutions to end global homelessness. With the help of donations, they have already built over 2,700 homes in Haiti, El Salvador, Bolivia, and Mexico using traditional methods. Now, having partnered with Icon – a construction tech company based in Austin, TX, they are building the world’s first 3D printed community in rural Mexico.

3d printed home

Aiming to help with global growing demand for housing, Icon has developed robotics, software and materials for affordable and sustainable housing that will revolutionize homebuilding. In 2018 they have built the first 3D printed house in Austin, TX as a proof of concept, and now using that technology, they are building a community in Tabasco, Mexico for local families currently living in extreme poverty.

Each house takes 24 hours of printing time, using Icon’s Vulcan II 3D printer, which was designed to withstand the difficult conditions of rural locations. There have been some other experiments with 3D printed homes in the past, but mostly under controlled conditions, which haven’t yet been proven in the real world. This project, however, is located in Tabasco, a Mexican state that borders Guatemala – a location with high risk of earthquakes, so the construction design went through even more engineering tests beforehand.

The Vulcan II prints the house on location, by pouring layers of concrete mixture to form walls and floors. Special software monitors the weather conditions and adjusts the mixture according to changes in humidity occurring throughout the day. The finished houses have two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bath – a huge improvement of the makeshift shacks common in the area. Local families toured the first two houses that were built, noting how the houses stay dry even when it rains.

The partnership between New Story and Icon is taking 3D printed homes to the next level. Once the first neighborhood is built and lived in, they plan to share their knowledge with other nonprofits and governments in order to radically change social housing worldwide.