Things That Matter

50 Families In Mexico Living On $3 A Day Will Live In The World’s First 3D Printed Neighborhood

Silicon Valley has become the global epicenter for the development of new technologies, but for every great development when it comes to benefiting humanity, there are hundreds that just seem, no offense, just a bit silly and unnecessary. 3D printing has become the latest real revolution in the tech industry, as it allows objects that are originally designed digitally to become a real physical object.

Of course, people have mainly used 3D printing to make banal objects like toys and chocolate, but this technology has also been used for amazing purposes such as rebuilding old objects studied by archaeologists or printing body parts for disabled patients. So a new initiative in Mexico that caters for the most vulnerable. 

But what is 3D printing exactly? And how on Earth can you print a house?

The technology is not new. In fact, most of the basic knowledge around it was achieved in the 1980s, but it sort of faded away. The increased capacity of processors has triggered a 3D printing revolution. 3D printing is basically laying layer upon layer of any given material, which is generally some sort of plastic but has included substances such as chocolate (yes, really!) and in the case of 3D printed houses, cement.

The home-building process with giant printers becomes so much quicker and ultimately cheaper, as manual labor is kept to a minimum and materials are very basic. Another advantage is that errors are kept to a minimum so homes are safe particularly in regions that are prone to natural disasters such as flooding or earthquakes. Materials can be carefully chosen and issues such as leaks become minimal due to the tightness of the construction. 

A community in Mexico will get these 3D printed houses and that is just awesome.

Millions of Mexicans live in extreme poverty, and some of them survive in makeshift homes made out of wood, plastic, tin and basically scraps. This puts them in an even more vulnerable position as floods, fires or any other disaster can basically leave them with nothing at any point. Developers in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco have built the first two of the 50 printed houses they are aiming to complete by the end of 2020.

Brett Hagler, CEO and co-founder of New Story, the nonprofit building the community, told CNN: “These families are the most vulnerable, and in the lowest income … and they’re living on about an average of $3 a day.”

And he continued: “They’re living in literally a pieced-together shack that during the rainy season, it will rain and it will flood their shack. Some of the women even said that the water will go up to their knees when it rains, sometimes for month.”

Rains not only bring financial ruin, but also lead to epidemics of life-threatening conditions such as cholera or dengue, which is spread by the mosquitoes that thrive in stagnated water. We also love how the design keeps some traditional elements of houses in the area. Well done, everyone.

This might be the future of affordable housing, and it has been made possible by cooperation between great minds and hearts on both sides of the border.

Credit: CNN / YouTube

When great minds and generous hearts get together good things happen. These houses are the result of binational cooperation between US companies and Mexican nonprofits (yes, people from these two countries can and have done great things together).

As CNN reports: “New Story is a nonprofit that helps families in need of shelter. It has built more than 2,700 homes in South America and Mexico since it was founded in 2014. This is the first homebuilding project it’s done with 3D printing. The nonprofit paired up with ICON, a construction technology company that developed the 3D-printing robotics being used on the project. ÉCHALE, a nonprofit in Mexico, is helping find local families to live in the homes.”

See? Great things really do happen when political differences are set aside and we find our common humanity. The lives of families in this new 3D printed neighborhood will really improve and instead of merely surviving they will get on living. 

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