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ICON: Affordable Homes, Layer by Layer

New Story takes us on-site in Austin, Texas where their partner, ICON has just 3D printed the first of its homes intended for the developing world. The units, which take less than 24 hours to complete, are projected to cost around $4,000. It’s an audacious goal, but ICON hopes to have this technology scaled up enough to build an entire community of these homes in El Salvador in 2019.

From New Story’s website

New Story’s previous homes built in El Salvador have averaged around $6,000 per unit, making the significantly lower price point all the more eye-opening. With lower costs, more homes can be built and more lives impacted for the better.

Assignment Idea: “Impactful Printing”


Thinking of the dramatic lowering of costs afforded by 3D printing a home, what other items that we use day to day might be made more affordable to someone in the developing world? Consider even seemingly mundane objects that could easily be taken for granted: A high impact mobile phone case could keep a vital tool for communications, banking and light safe from damage while a set of storage bowls with locking lids would keep food fresh and free from contamination.

Working in teams, students will research and brainstorm based on the needs of the community of focus. Depending on the course, objects can be sketched or modeled and can be included along with the findings in a presentation to the class and group discussion of which has the most impact and why. A “winning design” could then be 3D printed and donated to a low income resource center.

Subject Areas

Business, Communications, Sustainability


  • short, research-based post (optional)
  • identification of object
  • sketch or 3D model of object (optional)
  • presentation to class
  • 3D print of final object design (optional)