Respect Poverty

Watch how this 3D printer can make an affordable home in just 24 hours

The Vulcan II is just as impressive as its name. It’s the first-of-its-kind 3D printer that can be operated by anyone and is capable of printing a livable house. Watch the video because you may have to see it to believe it.

The secret to its success is a proprietary cement-based material called “Lavacrete” that is stacked layer by layer by the printer, forming a building frame that’s impervious to weather and strong enough to withstand an earthquake. Finishing touches — such as windows, gutters and plumbing — are done the old-fashioned way, with teams of builders. The frame can be printed in less than 24 hours, and within a week the house can be move-in ready.

The U.S.-based nonprofit New Story has teamed up with Austin-based ICON, developer of the technology, to build more than 2,700 homes for impoverished people in Mexico, Haiti and El Salvador, with many more projects on the horizon. A dozen companies have donated and/or invested money in the innovative project, 

“Our private group of donors invest directly into our operational and R&D expenses. This allows us to take calculated risks, like a 3D printer,” says Brett Hagler, CEO of New Story.

ICON hopes its innovative construction technologies will revolutionize homebuilding around the world “using proprietary 3D printing robotics, software and advanced materials.”

It’s estimated that about one-fifth of the world’s population are either homeless or live in substandard housing that doesn’t provide adequate shelter. Even in wealthy nations, providing affordable, safe housing for everyone is a challenge.

“Innovation requires risk that many governments and NGOs don’t have the ability (or motivation) to take,” says Alexandria Lafci, COO, New Story. “Thankfully our donors understand that we cannot solve the world’s biggest problems without innovation and consequently, an appetite for calculated risk.”