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New 3D-printed homes in Mexico will cost their low-income residents just $20 per month. Take a look inside.

New 3D-printed homes in Mexico will cost their low-income residents just $20 per month. Take a look inside.
3D-printed homes that can be built in 24 hours unveiled in Mexico - Business Insider

The homes are part of a planned community for low-income residents in Tabasco, Mexico. Residents will pay a mortgage of $20 per month.

New story 3d homeNew story 3d home
Joshua Perez/New Story
  • A team of designers and philanthropists constructed two 3D-printed homes. Each home was built in 24 hours. 
  • The homes are part of a planned community for low-income residents in Tabasco, Mexico.
  • Residents of the 3D-printed homes will be required to pay a mortgage of 400 pesos (about $20) per month for seven years.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In a rainy, rural site in the Mexican state of Tabasco, a pair of 3D-printed homes represent a milestone: They're the initial two structures in a community that aims to be the world's first 3D-printed housing development. 

This month, a team of designers and philanthropists unveiled the houses, which are part of a planned 50-home neighborhood for low-income families.

It's the result of a collaboration between New Story, a San Francisco-based housing nonprofit, and Icon, a construction-technology company that designs 3D printers. 

Take a look inside the brand-new structures. 

At 500 square feet each, the homes take just 24 hours to print.

New Story mexico homes
Joshua Perez/New Story

Icon's printer, known as Vulcan II (shown above), weighs about 3,800 pounds. It can operate during a power shortage and comes with LED lighting for printing at night. 

The Vulcan II is operated via controls through a tablet, so only a few workers are required to print a home.

The printing process is relatively simple: The printer churns out layers of cement, which amass to form the walls of the home.

New Story printed home community
Joshua Perez/New Story

The company's cement mixture is stronger than traditional building materials, so it can withstand extreme weather conditions. 

Non-printed fixtures like doors and windows are installed at the end of the process.

 

To select who will get to live in the community, New Story surveyed more than 500 local families. The group promised the homes to 50 families with the greatest financial and physical needs.

New Story old mexico homes
Joe Gonzales/New Story

The up-front cost of building the homes and necessary infrastructure was funded by New Story donors. The nonprofit declined to say how much the houses cost, but it previously estimated that it could build a 600- to 800-square-foot home for $4,000 or less. 

A local nonprofit, Échale, helped select the winning families, most of which are among Tabasco's indigenous population. 

The nonprofit also solicited feedback from future residents about the community's design. The vast majority of families wanted flat roofs so that it would be easier to add to or customize their home.

 

Residents will be required to pay a small mortgage of 400 pesos (about $20) per month for seven years.

New Story printed home exterior
Joshua Perez/New Story

The mortgages come with zero interest and the money goes into a community investment fund meant to be spent by the residents.

 

Many Tabasco residents struggle with poverty and violence in their communities. The median family income there is $77 per month.

New story old mexico home
Joshua Perez/New Story

Tabasco has the highest unemployment rate of any state in Mexico.

In 2017, police registered nearly 390 murders there — triple the number in 2012. In 2018, a Mexican journalist was shot and killed in Tabasco.

The new homes come with two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom.

New Story residents
Joshua Perez/New Story

"I can't wait to have bedrooms where my family can sleep more comfortably and more protected from the cold and the mosquitoes," Isela, one of the community's future residents and a mother of two (who did not provide her last name), said in a statement. "If it rains, I know it's not going to make our floors muddy; that is how my home is now." 

The new community will also offer parks and green space.

New Story living room
Joshua Perez/New Story

Almost all of the families surveyed asked for green space near their homes. A quarter of those surveyed said they considered green space the most important feature of their future community. 

But the community's rural location and some rainy weather posed a challenge for the builders.

New Story old mexico homes
Joshua Perez/New Story

Though the actually printing process took 24 hours, planning for the development lasted 18 months.

"The journey has not been easy," New Story said in a statement on its website. "Power can be unpredictable and local rainfall has often flooded access roads to the construction site."

The two printed homes will soon be joined by 48 more structures, but the rest likely won't be 3D-printed, despite the group's intent to build the first 3D-printed community.

New Story kitchen
Joshua Perez/New Story

Instead, New Story plans to use a material called Eco-Block: a type of brick made from organic waste that's stronger than traditional concrete and produces fewer carbon emissions. The nonprofit will then compare whether Eco-Block or 3D printing holds up better over time.

For now, the 50 families are still living in their old homes. An official move-in date hasn't been decided yet.

New Story Mexico bedroom
Joshua Perez/New Story

The two 3D-printed homes won't be occupied until the entire community is completed. 

"The thing I am most excited about for my new house is having my own room where I can read," 8-year old Alan (who did not provide his last name) said in a statement. "Where I live now, we can't read much, because when our parents bought us books, they would always get wet because of rain coming in through the roof." 

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