At the annual film and innovation festival known as SXSW, the company showed its creation. In the longer term, ICON has partnered with housing nonprofit New Story to take its technology to the developing world. The plan is for ICON and New Story to build a community of 100 homes in El Salvador next year using the Vulcan printer. Excavation still has to happen for concrete foundations, and the windows, roof, and interior mechanicals like electricity and plumbing can’t be poured by a printer.
A 3D-printed house
ICON is focused on bringing affordable housing to the estimated 1.2 billion people around the world who do not have adequate shelter. In order to 3D print a building ICON needs to create a schematic which is used by computer to instruct the massive printer how and where to place the cement. Homes up to 800 square feet can be printed. In El Salvador, building a house is not an easy task. The land is vulnerable to earthquakes, flooding and volcanic eruptions. Architectural features like curved walls, normally expensive and difficult to build, become effortless with a 3-D printer. “You could print a house in the shape of a Fibonacci spiral if you wanted to,” says Jason Ballard, cofounder of ICON.