World’s first 3D-printed neighborhood is being built in Mexico

Icon 3D printed home Mexico
(Image credit: Icon / Joshua Perez)

Another big stride forward has been made when it comes to 3D printing in the construction industry, with plans to build the first 3D-printed neighborhood ever seen in the world over in Mexico.

The homes will be built in rural Mexico to house vulnerable families on the lowest incomes (in the community involved, the average median family income is $76.50 monthly).

Housing non-profit organization New Story is behind the project, and is working in conjunction with Icon which is providing the construction and 3D printing expertise.

Icon’s Vulcan II 3D printer is being used to build the homes, and this hardware has already been involved in printing prototype homes in a development for the homeless in Texas.

In the project in the state of Tabasco, Mexico, two houses have already been built by Icon – and these abodes aren’t just prototypes.

The plan is to build 50 new houses by the end of next year, which will replace the makeshift wooden and metal structures the people have built for shelter themselves, with buildings that are capable of withstanding everything that the natural world might throw at them.

And in this particular rural part of Tabasco, which is a seismic zone, that means potential earthquakes, and also floods.

Brett Hagler, who is chief executive and co-founder of New Story, told CNN: “They’re living in literally a pieced-together shack that during the rainy season, it will rain and it will flood their shack. Some of the women even said that the water will go up to their knees when it rains, sometimes for months.”

Icon 3D printed home Mexico inside

(Image credit: Icon / Joshua Perez)

Swift construction

The homes take around 24 hours to print (albeit in a process spread over several days), and two houses can be constructed simultaneously. This is something like twice as fast as it would normally take the non-profit to build a house using traditional means.

In terms of size, the houses are 500 square feet and consist of a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and two bedrooms. The families who will live in these homes were consulted when it came to their design, too.

New Story was founded five years back and is on a mission to end global homelessness. Thus far, the non-profit has overseen the construction of over 2,700 houses across Mexico, Haiti, El Salvador and Bolivia (using traditional building methods up until now).

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).