In the near future, suburbs might be built using a combination of high tech wood and volcanic ash. But a recent demo revealed that building new houses could maybe be as easy printing out a movie ticket.

New Story, an international housing non-profit, and ICON, a Texas-based robotics startup, presented the first ready-to-live-in 3D printed home in the United States at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas on March 12, materials for the 650-square-foot, single story, structure cost around $10,000. It was fully constructed in less than a day using ICON’s Vulcan 3D printer.

The house seen at SXSW is the first step in a plan to providing affordable housing to communities in countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia. The two organizations are planning on bringing the price of printing these homes down to around $4,000 to make them as affordable as possible.

SXSW 2018 3D Printed house by New Story and ICON

The process is familiar to anybody who’s seen this sort of 3D-printed magic before: The Vulcan printer squirts out a custom blend of concrete — which is what you’ve seen before — but then it solidifies as it’s printed, in a processes that looks a lot like squeezing toothpaste out of its tube. The walls of the home are build out of multiple snake-like strands of concrete the printer spits out.

Where it’s different from 3D printing is when group of New Story employees then step in and add everything else a 3D printer can’t, like the roof, windows, plumbing, and electrical wiring, on the clock. A New Story representative told Quartz that their goal is to cut down the time it takes to print a house to about six hours.

Dispatching a crew to put the finishing touches to every 3D printed household around the world would take a lot of resources. That is why ICON wants to develop a fleet of robots and drones that could install the windows and paint the exterior autonomously.

This collaborative effort isn’t the first 3D printed house to be created, but it is the first project attempting to make this technology widely available. In a few years’ time there could be neighborhoods of 3D printed homes across the globe.


If you liked this article, check out this video: "Why You Sympathize With The Boston Dynamics Robots"