“Imagine if we could slash the cost and time it takes to build a home while improving quality and customization. This 3D home printer has that potential. Change is an open source pursuit so we are not building this technology for New Story, we are building it for the world.” – Alexandria Lafci, COO, New Story 
Introduction: Printing Your Pad
In March 2018, New Story, a San Francisco-based nonprofit focused on solving global homelessness through building resilient homes in developing countries unveiled its first 3D printed home, a 350 square foot structure in Austin, Texas. Built in partnership with ICON, a construction technology company specializing in 3D printers, New Story’s 3D printed home was built in under 48 hours and cost approximately $10,000.  Compare this with the ~$238,000 average cost and 4-6 month average construction timeline of an average home built in the United States , and it’s clear that New Story and ICON have tapped into a compelling opportunity to reshape affordable housing through harnessing the power of additive manufacturing.
Simply put, additive manufacturing (or 3D printing), is an automated process of creating physical objects or structures through depositing materials in layers based on a digital file. Seeking ways to increase productivity, quality, sustainability and safety while decreasing cost, waste and lead time for construction projects, builders have become increasingly interested in 3D technology to facilitate a more efficient construction process. Technological advances, new start-up entrants, growing acceptance by established construction companies and government support have all led to momentum behind 3D printing in a traditionally conservative industry.
New Story and Additive Manufacturing
According to the World Resource Institute, 1.2 billion people, or one third of urban dwellers globally, lack access to safe housing.  If current trends persist, 1.6 billion people could live without access to adequate and secure housing by 2025.  For New Story, an organization fighting global homelessness, additive manufacturing expands the company’s reach and impact exponentially, increasing output rate, quality and standardization.
Using current traditional construction methods, New Story requires 13-20 days to build a simple, sustainable home in a developing country at a unit cost of approximately $6,500.  Over the past four years, New Story has funded or built over 2,000 such homes in Mexico, Haiti, El Salvador and Bolivia. Utilizing ICON’s 3D Printer, the Vulcan, a 2,000 pound robotic machine extruding precise one-inch layers of concrete based on uploaded software, the organization estimates it will decrease its construction timeline to 12-24 hours per home, at a cost of $4,000 with virtually no waste. Through use of the Vulcan, New Story aims to deliver a 100-home community in as short as 3 months versus about a year through traditional construction.
New Story’s 3D printed home in Austin, TX. Source: New Story. https://newstorycharity.org/3d-home/
In the short term, New Story’s objective is to transform from a niche project to a real-world affordable housing solution in countries that need it most. The organization plans to print its first 3D homes in El Salvador by the end of the year, and finish its first community by 2019. In order to achieve this goal, New Story and ICON are focused on confirming quality through seismic and safety tests, as well as iterating on Vulcan technology to decrease construction time from 48 hours to 24 hours. 
While many companies might want to retain this groundbreaking technology, New Story takes a different view. In the long term, New Story plans to democratize their technology, sharing innovative printing techniques with governments and organizations to expand the reach of the Vulcan and solve housing crises across the globe. 
Poised to create a paradigm shift in the world of affordable construction, New Story should take the time required to refine its design and technology to ensure the utmost quality and safety for its homes. While New Story stresses that quality in terms of thermal envelope and energy efficiency is higher than that of conventional stick buildings, many continue to question the quality of homes built entirely by software, and long-term durability remains unproven. Closing this perception gap will be critical for future mass adoption of the technology.
Despite growing popularity, 3D printed construction remains a niche market, with fewer than 40 large-scale projects fully realized around the world representing less than $100 million . In the medium term, New Story should focus on scaling its construction through partnership with new countries and governments to garner further support. Expanding beyond a single design to more customizable home offerings will allow New Story to expand its reach, and expansion beyond single family homes to community centers, schools and public restrooms would allow New Story to build lasting environments. While the current technology produces the outer shell of a home, New Story could extend its technology to print interior furniture and infrastructure for utilities.
Will New Story and ICON 3D printed homes be capable of moving past a “niche” product into a mainstream affordable housing solution? How do we grapple with 3D printing eclipsing local job opportunities in homebuilding in developing countries? Beyond affordable housing, is 3D printing better suited for constructing small components versus a home in its entirety?
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