Startup company ICON says it has an inexpensive solution to the world's housing crisis--and it's 3D printed.
In partnership with non-profit New Story, ICON has designed a 650-sq. ft. house made entirely with a 3D cement printer that, when finished, will be a significantly cheaper housing alternative for third-world countries. The design includes all the housing essentials, including a living room, bathroom, and bedroom, along with a unique curved porch encircling the front of the house. As a matter of fact, the Vulcan printer the company uses can even churn out houses up to 800 sq. ft. in size.
You may have heard of 3D printed houses before, and one of ICON's co-founders, Jason Ballard, acknowledges that they aren't first to market. However, he asserts that the design of their homes is superior in quality. "There are a few other companies that have printed homes and structures. But they are printed in a warehouse, or they look like Yoda huts. For this venture to succeed, they have to be the best houses."
Not only is the quality great, but the price tag, aided by low labor costs, is even better at only $10,000 per home. ICON's goal is to drop that price even lower to $4,000 dollars per house. This is an ideal number for countries like El Salvador, where ICON will begin construction of 100 homes for underprivileged residents next year.
Even so, the ICON houses still have a little ways to go until their ready for the market. The company plans to test their design as an office first to evaluate and revise the aesthetic and quality of the house before packing up their printer for El Salvador.
ICON's venture into 3D printed houses is just one of the latest leaps forward in technology through 3D printing. Companies are beginning to work on printing organs, cars, and even clothing. This method of manufacturing has the potential to reduce costs and improve the quality of life in several areas of industry.
But what's next after solving Earth's housing crisis? ICON sees this technology as useful in interplanetary colonization as well: "One of the big challenges is how are we going to create habitats in space. You’re not going to open a two by four and open screws. It’s one of the more promising potential habitat technologies,” Ballard stated.
Whether or not we'll ever actually colonize another planet is another question, but if ICON's house is on Mars, we'll at least be a whole lot better off than Mark Watney.
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