3D-printed move from Dubai citadel to El Salvador slum


Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, signs on the board during the official opening of the world’s first functional 3D printed offices in Dubai in May 2016. (Reuters)
BOGOTA: Dozens of families living in El Salvador’s slums hope to swap their makeshift wooden shacks for concrete 3D-printed houses next year, in what developers say is the first project of its kind in the world.

ICON, a Texas-based construction technology company has unveiled a 350 square foot (33 square meter) house, which it printed and built in two days using a gigantic, portable 3D-printer.

“Something that sounds like science fiction is real,” Jason Ballard, ICON’s co-founder, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We plan on printing a whole sort of development … not just a 3D-print house but a 3D-printed neighborhood.”

Globally nearly 1 billion people live in slums, often in shacks made from scraps of metal and wood with dirt floors, according to the UN, which predicts the world’s population will reach 8 billion by 2030.

Innovators are racing to develop quick, cheap technology to address global housing needs. Dubai opened in 2016 what it said was the world’s first functioning 3D-printed office building.

Ballard said ICON’s house is the first to be built on site and receive a permit — from the UScity of Austin — allowing someone to live in it.

“We had to build it to the highest international standards of building safety,” he said.

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