AUSTIN - The Vulcan II, a 33-by-11 foot behemoth of a machine, is capable of 3D-printing a small house frame in less than 24 hours.
It's been a year since the first one was built in Austin, Texas, and more are on the way. Austin-based developer Cielo Property Group announced that it's purchasing the Vulcan II and plans to start production of affordable housing in the city this year, reported the Wall Street Journal.
The 3,800 pound Vulcan II, which operates with a tablet and just a few supervisors, builds walls and floors by squirting out concrete layer by layer. A roof, windows, and utilities are built the day after. Icon says the printer can build a 2,000-square-foot family home in a matter of days.
“Vulcan II is the first printer of its kind in that it has the capability of printing homes in which people actually want to live," says Icon, the Silicon-Valley based tech startup that designed, built, and now sells the printer. "It can be operated by anyone with basic training thanks to the improvements in automation, mechatronics and a suite of specialized software.”
Icon is partnering with nonprofit New Story to build 50 homes for poor, rural Latin American families later this year.
New Story, a 2014 startup focused on building housing for extremely poor families around the world, will build the homes for families who bring in less than $200 a month. The company doesn't know for sure how much each home will cost to build, but said it will be substantially cheaper than its other traditionally-built low-cost homes, which cost around $7,000. Icon estimates it's 30 percent cheaper than building a home traditionally.
New Story told Fast Company that traditional construction hinders its ability to provide better housing. The company worked with Icon on the Vulcan II's research and development.
The Vulcan II faces a few challenges, namely scaling and shipment, as well as a need to function in varying climates. The printer is available for purchase around the world. Icon will begin shipping pre-orders, which are now being taken, next month.
“Vulcan II is ready to move out of Icon’s lab and into the world next month to begin its very good work of delivering affordable, resilient dignified housing around the world,” the company said in a statement.
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