How Printing Changes the World: World’s First Community of 3D Printed Homes for Mexico’s Poorest Families

New Story is printing the first 3D printed community worldwide in Mexico. They partnered with ICON, a construction technologies company, in hopes that this catalytic R&D project will influence the global social housing sector as a whole.

Two years ago, the first ever 3D printed house was built in less than 24 hours in Texas. Back then everyone was stunned by the incredible efficiency and speed of the process. Now the nonprofit organization New Story is attempting to print a whole community of 3D houses in an effort to end global homelessness with pioneering solutions, such as 3D printing. And two of the fifty planned homes are already built in rural Tabasco, Mexico. It took construction technologies company ICON about 24h of print time throughout several days, to print the resilient, 500-square-foot houses.

The First of Its Kind

To tackle this massive project, New Story and ICON chose to use the Vulcan II 3D printer, a printer designed to thrive under the difficult conditions of the constraint rural location. This printer is the first of its kind and has the potential to help overcome the housing shortage for vulnerable populations. The accruing community is designed for families living on less than $3 a day, in need of shelter. Alexandria Lafci, Co-Founder of New Story, says, “I think it’s important to remember what makes this project different, what makes it matter.”

 

Have a look at the first two 3D-printed homes. © New Story

From Traditional Construction to Pioneering the Building Industry

New Story was founded just five years ago and started out using more traditional construction methods to build more than 2,700 homes across Haiti, El Salvador, Bolivia and Mexico. In the last two years they have spent their time and money on developing innovative solutions and R&D for the global social housing sector to build affordable homes even better and faster. “Imagine if we could slash the cost and time it takes to build a home while improving quality and customization. This 3D home printer has that potential,” said Alexandria Lafci. “Change is an open source pursuit so we are not working with ICON to bring this technology to only New Story projects, we are bringing it to the world. Our goal is to power our sector, every government and organization building homes for the poor, to do their best work.”

Shifting the Paradigm of Homebuilding

Partnering up with ICON improved their efforts immensely. Together they are able to impact more families faster and improve quality, design and flexibility to meet the specific needs of each community, all through the wonders of 3D printing. After they have learned to use the technique properly, they plan to share their knowledge with other nonprofits and governments in hopes to improve the social housing sector worldwide. Jason Ballard, ICON Co-Founder, comments, “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.” The company is always working on shifting the paradigm of homebuilding. “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 calls their breakthrough building technology a “science fact, not science fiction”. Do you know any other projects that improve social issues through groundbreaking technological advancements?