This 3D printer partners with ambitious charity to end global homelessness

How can technology make a huge impact on the global homelessness crisis? New Story introduces an incredible idea; printing 3D homes to offer safe spaces for everybody

3D printed homes
The very first 3D printed homes have been built in Tabasco, Mexico. Image: New Story

Global homelessness

Around 1.6 billion people are homeless around the world. That means that approximately two percent of the global population have no homes to go to.

Homelessness is not only about the comfort of living in your own space but about so many other factors. If you have no home, you may have no access to support services or financial aid. Your children might not be able to go to school. Preparing food, keeping your family safe and finding gainful employment are all but impossible.

Reaching equality means breaking the mold. New Story, a non-profit based in San Fransisco, is doing just that.

Alexandria Lafci, COO at New Story, says:

Innovation requires risk that many governments and NGOs don’t have the ability (or motivation) to take. Thankfully our donors understand that we cannot solve the world’s biggest problems without innovation and consequently, an appetite for calculated risk

Empowered partnerships

New Story are working together with ICON and ÉCHALE. ICON is a construction technology firm whose work is dedicated to making ‘dignified housing’ the norm around the world.

ÉCHALE is the Mexican partner on the project and works to create affordable homes for vulnerable communities.

vulcan 2 3d printer
Vulcan’s 3D printer works autonomously, building the homes layer by layer with concrete. Photo: ICON

Combined, these three organizations are changing lives.

Using a Vulcan II 3D printer, New Story are printing homes. Their project is based in the community of Tabasco, Mexico. These homes are 500 square feet and are printed by ICON. The total print time is 24 hours, spread across a few days.

The first homes have been built and will be given to families living in temporary shelters and enduring extreme poverty. I cannot imagine how massive an impact it will have on the lives of the people in this community.

The challenges of a printed home

This is an example of technology at its finest. When companies work together to pool their resources, then the real magic happens.

Tabasco will have 50 new homes for the most vulnerable people when the build is finished. Printing them has a set of unique challenges. The area is within a seismic zone, and so the homes need to have robust foundations to ensure they will last for years to come.

New Story 3D printed homes
3D printed homes are being given to families living in extreme poverty. Image: New Story

The final build is completed by ÉCHALE. However, unreliable power supply makes construction work challenging. Flooding has hampered access to the building site, and so there have been multiple obstacles to overcome.

Each home includes two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. These are designed with feedback from the pre-selected families they are being built for.

Veronica Contreras, Foundation Director for ÉCHALE says:

3D printing for housing is a technology applied to a sector that has historically required a lot of labor. The fact that this technology is being used to help the people with the biggest social gap, turns it into a humanized technology

Building communities

New Story was founded five years ago ad during that time, they have built over 2,700 homes and helped over 15,000 people. These developments have been built in Haiti, El Salvador, Bolivia, and Mexico.

Now New Story is finding ways to build more houses, faster, and engage with the social housing sector to roll out more homes to more struggling communities.

This remarkable project showcases what we can achieve together. 3D printing has come a very long way in a short number of years, but I didn’t imagine it could be leveraged to build something as significant as a home!

15,000 people is a small proportion of the homeless around the world, but  I would hazard a guess that for those families, their lives will never be the same again.

Abundary has reached out to New Story for comment. In the meantime, can you see this technology being rolled out on a wider scale? 

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