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New 3-D Printed Tiny Homes Could Solve Homeless Problem
These homes could change the world.
Cedric Jackson
04.09.18

There are millions of people who are living in slums or who are homeless and have nowhere to sleep at night.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to supply them with adequate housing that was comfortable, safe, and affordable? A company in San Francisco is hoping to make that possible.

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The company has decided to use 3-D printing to create affordable homes that could help with the homelessness problem.

It’s able to make small homes that can house individuals or even small families. The homes look nice on the outside, and they can be placed almost anywhere. It has made three of the homes so far, and one was recently on display in Austin.

ICON co-founder Evan Loomis said of the Austin model:

“This is just the first step. And later this year, we want to build about 10 homes in El Salvador and an entire village of over 100 homes by early 2019.”

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Another company building homes for homeless people is called New Story.

It is currently working on building homes in the Caribbean and Central and South America. It has already built over 850 homes in Haiti, El Salvador, and Bolivia. However, these homes were not built with 3-D printers, and they take too long to complete. The company wanted to be able to help more families, and that means it needed to find a way to make houses faster. Now, New Story has partnered with ICON on the 3-D printing project.

Alexandria Lafci, co-founder and COO of New Story, said:

“We have a sense of urgency. We have a pretty aggressive timeline because the time is now to help these families in need.”

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The whole point is to make these homes affordable, so people who may not be able to afford the average home now can afford these houses.

The model in Austin costs about $10,000 to build, but ICON believes it will be able to make them for about $4,000 each. That’s a lot cheaper than any other type of house. But how practical are they?

Lawrence Sass, associate professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that he liked the idea behind the homes. However, Sass, who is not affiliated with either company, isn’t sure that 3-D printers can create safe homes. He said:

“I’ve worked with 3-D printers since 2000, and I’ve found 3-D printing is good for some things but it’s really terrible for making most objects, especially an object that’s over a square meter. [3-D printers], so far, lay material horizontally, and it’s structurally not sound. So, if there’s an earthquake, it would be like stacking up paper and watching the pages slide back and forth.”

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New Story and ICON understand these concerns, and they are focused on making their homes durable and safe.

They also want to make it possible for families who will live in these homes to somewhat design them. Lafci said:

“This is an open-source pursuit, so eventually, we want to make this technology available to others. The collective effort is what will drastically reduce that number of people dealing with housing inequity.”

ICON
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ICON

Will 3-D printed homes be a thing in the future?

It’s looking like there is a good chance they will be an option. The companies seem to be set on providing affordable homes to people who may not see owning a home as an option. If they continue to be successful, they could very well put an end to homelessness around the world. There’s a lot of work to be done, but these companies seem to be headed in the right direction, and they have both the technology and the passion to create amazing things.

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By Cedric Jackson
hi@sbly.com
Cedric Jackson is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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