A 3D Printed Community
June 06, 2018
In this episode of the TechTalk, we look at a 3D-printed housing community for needy families in El Salvador. We discuss who’s involved, what the goals are, some of the attached business issues, and how this could be a technological game-changer for affordable housing, the homeless, those impacted by disaster and others.
Dp: So we’ve talked about 3D printing before. It’s, you know, it’s certainly one thing to be able to print, let’s say a 3D Star Wars collectible figure, and I’m sure it’s an entirely another thing to create a 3D printing of what essentially is a whole town.
DK: Yeah, so it’s quite an undertaking. You have a non-profit out there called New Story that’s partnering with an Austin based robotics construction company named ICON on this venture. So ICON developed a one ton printer called Vulcan to use concrete that dries faster than typical concrete.
Dp:Ok. And what’s the goal here? DK: New Story wants to raise $1 million to create one hundred 3D printed homes for needy families in El Salvador over the next two years. DP: Ok. And what types of housing are we talking about?
DK: ICON debuted a concrete prototype at the recent South by Southwest festival that had two bedrooms, a living room and a bathroom – homes somewhere between 600 and 800 feet – so not a mansion, but it’s not meant to be a mansion.
Dp: Yeah, it sounds pretty good. Put into some context for us how this could be a game changer.
DK:Sure. So New Story has built more than 850 traditional homes in Central and South America since 2014. Each home took about 2 weeks to build at a cost of about $6000, maybe a little more – comparison wise the average home in the U.S. takes two months and costs north of $200,000 to build.
Dp: Ok. DK: So with the new 3D process each home will take less than one day to build at a cost of about $4000. So if you think of the applications for homelessness or people in disaster areas – so I definitely consider this a game changer. DP: Indeed. Any drawbacks?
DK: Sure. So the one main thing is how will this type of concrete hold up over the long haul, which surely gets to safety concerns. And the other minor drawback is workers still have to install windows and fixtures after the print job, so it’s not like we’re pressing a button and we’re done – we’re not there yet.
Dp:Ok. Now it seems like business advisory services such as yours intersect many of these areas: we’re talking technology, construction, not-for-profit – tell us about that.
DK:Yeah, I’ve said it so many times, I’ll say it here again – cybersecurity. So we have these 3D models become prone to hacking and, you know, a little change may compromise an entire structure. And we’re talking about structures that need to stand. A little change – you know, does that compromise the standing of that structure. Another area is valuation, you know, how do you value a company like this? How do you value technology like this? So as with anything the need for business advisory services is integral.
Dp:Well Dave, thanks for your expertise and insight here.
Dp:And thank you for listening to TechTalk as part of the EisnerAmper Podcast Series. Visit EisnerAmper.com for more information on this and a host of other topics and join us for our next EisnerAmper podcast when we get down to business.