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These 3D-printed homes can be built for less than $5,500 in just 24 hours

Aria Bendix

Printable homes represent the latest wave in construction, but they're not always cheap to build.

Earlier this year, Branch Technology, an architectural startup, developed a prototype of a 92 square metre 3D-printed home that would cost about $410,000 - a price too high to be considered a solution to the global housing crisis.

In March, New Story, a housing nonprofit based in San Francisco, and ICON, a construction-technology company that designs 3D printers, unveiled what they said was "the first permitted, 3D-printed home in America": a 32 square metre structure that cost under $14,000 and took just 48 hours to build.

At the time, the printer - known as the Vulcan - was running at only 25% speed. That gave the companies confidence that they could build a 55-75 square metre home in just 24 hours for $U5,500 or less.

Before using 3D-printing technology, it took New Story eight months to build 100 homes, each costing about $8,200.

While the test run took place in Austin, Texas, the companies plan to produce their first string of homes next year in El Salvador, a country whose rough terrain and frequent floods have made housing construction difficult. From there, they hope to provide safe homes to some of the 1.3 billion people around the world residing in slums.

Take a look at their housing model below.

The Vulcan can produce a home seamlessly onsite, without having to piece together individual units.

The printer is designed to be mobile and weighs about 900kg.

It's also made to withstand rural weather conditions, meaning it could operate during a power shortage or without access to potable water.

The prototype features a living room, a single bedroom and bathroom, and a small office space.

ICON said its staff tested the home's durability by using it as an office space.

Families in El Salvador could move into the homes by 2019, following seismic and safety tests.

New Story is seeking $US1 million to 3D-print more than 100 homes in El Salvador in the next two years, CNN reported in March.

The next stop? It could be 3D-printing in space.

ICON says it's researching how its printing technology might be used to build space habitats. As the company put it: "It sounds crazy, but it would be a lot crazier to fly sheet rock and 2x4's to Mars."