Construction tech company ICON has completed its 3D-printed tiny home, which has become a home to a previously homeless man. Tim Shea, 70, is the first person to live in a 3D-printed tiny house in the United States. This tiny home is not only a feat in engineering and sustainability but also a life-saving technology.
Tim Shea lives in a 400-square-foot house in Austin, Texas, which he rents for $300 a month. The prototype was the country’s first permitted 3D-printed house in a joint project with social housing non-profit New Story, showcased in 2018. In late 2019, ICON and New Story 3D-printed manufactured a range of tiny houses in Mexico. In 2020, plans were announced for building six tiny houses in Austin’s Community First! Village – a community of affordable homes for adults coming out of chronic homelessness.
Built with the ICON Vulcan II printer – a concrete printer capable of printing walls up to 8.5 feet tall on foundations up to 28 feet wide, these homes will be a blessing for homeless people. The Vulcan prints in Lavacrete, ICON’s proprietary concrete mix, with a compressive strength of 6,000 psi.
Although 3D printing homes is not a cure-all for homelessness, the company aims to tackle homelessness with small homes that can be printed in 48 hours and cost as little as $10,000. However, projects such as ICON’s tiny housing can make a significant difference in individual lives.
Shea’s life has turned around thanks to his new home and the support of the village. He said,
“When I found out I’d be the first person in America to move into a 3D-printed home, I thought it was pretty awesome. The very people I used to run away from, I’m running to. If you’ve been on both sides of the fence, you know some people just need a little encouragement and support.”
The construction of these houses produces considerably less waste compared to traditional construction. Each 3D-printed tiny house can be constructed with an estimated 20 to 30 percent less than a tiny house made with traditional construction material.
ICON’s 3D-printed homes are printed less than 48 hours and they are sustainable due to the resiliency of the concrete used in the making. According to the company, these concrete tiny houses should be able to survive any natural disaster that might hit the area.