The future of home construction has arrived in Mexico: a giant 3D printer built two houses in Nacajuca, Tabasco, last week.
Built by the United States non-profit New Story in conjunction with Mexican social housing enterprise Échale and U.S. construction technology company Icon, the homes will form part of the world’s first 3D-printed neighborhood.
Fifty homes designed to withstand seismic activity and prevent flooding are expected to be built in Nacajuca with 3D printers by the end of 2020. The local government donated land for the project and will provide the infrastructure required by the new neighborhood such as electricity and roads.
The CEO and co-founder of New Story told CNN that vulnerable families living on about US $3 a day will have the opportunity to move into the neighborhood once it is finished.
Brett Hagler said that low-income residents in Nacajuca currently live in “pieced-together” shacks that flood during the rainy season.
“Some of the women even said that the water will go up to their knees when it rains, sometimes for months,” he said.
New Story has built more than 2,700 homes in Mexico, Haiti, El Salvador and Bolivia since it was founded in 2014 but the Tabasco project will be the first completed using a 3D printer.
“We feel like we’ve proved what’s possible by bringing this machine down to a rural area in Mexico, in a seismic zone, and successfully printing these first few houses,” Hagler said.
The Vulcan II printer was made by Icon, a Texas-based company that began collaborating with New Story two years ago.
The 10-meter-long printer pipes out a concrete mix that is used to build the walls of the homes one layer at a time. A 47-square-meter home with two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room and a kitchen can be built in a few days.
Each 3D-printed home in the Nacajuca neighborhood will have curved walls and lattices to improve airflow and a reinforced foundation to help it withstand earthquakes. Échale has partnered with New Story to complete parts of the homes that can’t be 3D-printed.
“3D printed homes allow for safer, faster and higher quality housing,” the developers said in a promotional video.
Icon CEO and co-founder Jason Ballard explained that the construction process with the 3D printer has improved by “10 times” during the past year.
Referring to the Nacajuca project, he told CNN that “it is so rare that the-most-in-need of our sisters and brothers globally get first access to advanced technologies and breakthroughs in materials science.”
The innovative home-building technology has the potential to change the world, Ballard added.
“We think part of what 3D printing allows us to do is to deliver a much higher-quality product to the housing market at a speed and price that’s typically not available for people” in low-income housing, he said.
“It is a house that anyone would be proud to live in.”