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Students use imagination and a 3D printer to make ornaments

Students use imagination and a 3D printer to make ornaments

A giant 3D printer built two houses in an impoverished rural part of Mexico last week, laying the foundation for the world’s first 3D printed neighborhood.

The houses are not just a prototype. Developers hope to build 50 new homes by the end of 2020, replacing buildings that residents built themselves from wood, metal and other materials they could afford.

The families live in an earthquake-prone and flood-prone zone in the Mexican state of Tabasco. An important aspect of the design was to build something that would withstand an earthquake and keep them dry in heavy rain.

“These families are the most vulnerable and have the lowest incomes … and they live on an average of about $3 a day,” said Brett Hagler, CEO and co-founder of New Story, the nonprofit that builds the community.

“They literally live in a constructed hut where during the rainy season it rains and floods their hut. Some of the women even said that when it rains, the water comes up to their knees, sometimes for months,” Hagler told CNN on Wednesday.

New Story is a nonprofit organization that helps families in need of housing. Since its founding in 2014, the company has built more than 2,700 homes in South America and Mexico. This is the first house building project to be carried out using 3D printing.

The nonprofit partnered with ICON, a construction technology company that developed the 3D printing robotics used for the project. ÉCHALE, a nonprofit organization in Mexico, helps find local families to live in the homes.

The houses were designed together with the families who will live in them.

The 33-foot printer dispenses a concrete mix that hardens as it dries, building the walls layer by layer. It takes 24 hours over several days to build two houses at once – about twice as fast as it takes New Story to build a house with normal construction.

The concrete mix is ​​more robust than conventional concrete, says New Story. The foundation is reinforced to withstand seismic activity.

The flat-roof houses are reminiscent of a southwestern design, but with curved walls. The 500 square meter houses have two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and a kitchen. People haven’t moved into the new houses yet, says New Story, because it would be dangerous for them to live in a construction zone.

There is no price tag for the homes yet, but New Story says it is working with families to have them pay 20 to 30 percent of their income. They want people to develop a sense of ownership of the community.