In March 2018, the San Francisco housing non-profit New Story unveiled a 32-square-meter prototype of a 3D printed home made in collaboration with construction technology company ICON. Most impressively, the team revealed that the structure cost under $14,000 and took only 48 hours to build — a staggering difference compared to the 92-square-meter 3D printed home developed by startup Branch Technology earlier in the year, which cost a jaw-dropping $410,000.
Before 3D printing technology came around, New Story spent eight months building 100 homes at an average cost of $48,200 per unit. While this price still might seem more than reasonable for a house, the company was determined to make things even more affordable in hopes of alleviating the growing housing crisis in the US.
Today, the company relies on the Vulcan 3D Printer to build its homes, and while it runs at just 25 percent of its full capacity, it’s still capable of producing builds between 55 and 75 square meters in just 24 hours, all for less than $5,500. It’s also surprisingly portable for weighing 900 kilograms, and efficient enough to finish a house in one go without requiring manual labor or the piecing together of individual modules.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the Vulcan is also weather resilient and has even been designed to run without sufficient power, such as during a power outage. The printer creates using locally-sourced materials and produces zero waste, making it one of the most eco-friendly ways to produce a genuine house using a proprietary concrete mixture that’s three times stronger than the industry standard.
Despite all their American ambitions, both ICON and New Story plan to launch their first line of 3D printed houses in a country that’s much more in need of them at the moment: El Salvador. Though beautiful and rich in culture, the country’s frequent flooding and inconsistent terrain make efficient and safe housing relatively difficult to establish there. And even with their new ultra-affordable construction method, the company still needs around $1 million USD in order to fund this first two-year project.
New Story is determined to combat the crisis that is global homelessness with their new invention, envisioning a future where everyone has a right to shelter that is sturdy, safe, and comforting. But there’s a long way to go before their work is done. After all, there are already over one billion people on Earth without homes, and that number just keeps climbing.
Solving this almost insurmountable problem with something as novel as 3D printing might seem like a big stretch, but with a little optimism and a promising product line, we’re positive that New Story can at least keep inching closer to meeting their goal over the next few years.