The world's first 3D-printed community is officially under construction
3:28

The world's first 3D-printed community is officially under construction

Science
The world's first 3D printed community is officially underway. Thanks to this industrial size soft serve machine. I'm just kidding. You do not wanna eat that meet the Vulcan too this 3D printer was made by a company called icon. It weighs nearly two tonnes and can turn out an entire house in just 24 hours of print time. I wanted to learn more about this machine and what it could mean for the global housing crisis. So I spoke with Icon's co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Alex Le Roux. What we've been able to do is create something that you just set up. Once on a foundation, you hook it up to our magma system. This is our material delivery system that we built in-house. And then you're off to the races. Three people can operate the Magma and the Vulcan, so three people in total for both machines, and then you're printing a house. We saw the Vulcan I earlier this year in Austin, Texas, where it printed the world's first 3D printed home to be awarded a construction permit. The Vulcan II features some significant upgrades, including an app, For tablet-based controls, more reliable consistent and speedy printing, as well as a secret concrete-based mix called Lavacrete. You've seen concrete made and mixed, poured into a form, it's doing what it likes to do. It likes to just flow. What we're asking concrete to do is quite different. We're asking concrete to Flow a little bit through a hose, but also stand up, right, once we've extruded it. And getting that to happen every single time is a massive technological challenge that we have so far addressed pretty dang well, but I think there's still some room for improvement. To prove the usefulness of this new technology and bring it to the people who need it the most, Icon partnered with a non-profit dedicated to fighting global homelessness, called New Story. Today, the companies begin construction of the world's first 3D printed community in Mexico. So far, two houses have already been printed at top foundations With finishing by workers from a local nonprofit called HLA. This Mexico project was as difficult of a project as you can possibly imagine. It's a seismic zone. It's extremely remote power comes out from time to time. There are safety concerns, you know, and then this part of Mexico is just not very safe sometimes. You put all that together, and it's just an enormous challenge. Not just from a technology perspective, but just operationally. ICON says they're planning to 3D print a total of 50 houses in Mexico with the Vulcan II. The community is designed for people living on an average income of less than $3 a day. And residence are set to start moving into their new homes some time next year. If you're like me, you might be wondering when you will be able to buy yourself a 3D printed home, and how much that might cost? But ICON isn't ready to release all that information quite yet. The big goal is downloading and printing home in 24 hours for half the cost, 50%. That's kind of the overarching goal here at ICON. We're not quite there yet, but we're making steady progress towards that goal. Beyond the obvious terrestial need for more affordable housing, Icon is also one of a handful of companies currently in talks with NASA about potentially developing 3D printers to build structures on the moon and mars. As always, thanks so much for watching, I'm your host, Jesee [UNKNOWN]. See you in 2020 with a bam. [MUSIC]

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