Here is how an 11-foot-tall 3-D printer is helping to create a community in a tiny village on the outskirts of Nacajuca, Mexico.

Iran PressSci & Tech: Pedro García Hernández, 48, is a carpenter in the southeastern Mexican state of Tabasco, a rainforest-shrouded region of the country where about half of the residents live below the poverty line.

He ekes out a living, making about 2,500 pesos ($125.17) a month from a tiny workspace inside the home he shares with his wife, Patrona, and their daughter, Yareli. The home has dirt floors, and during Tabasco’s long rainy season, it’s prone to flooding. Dust from his construction projects coats nearly everything in the home, clinging to the bedroom walls, the pump toilet and the counters of his makeshift kitchen, The New York Times reported.

But that will soon change. In a matter of months, Hernández and his family are moving to a new home on the outskirts of Nacajuca, Mexico: a sleek, 500-square-foot building with two bedrooms, a finished kitchen and bath, and indoor plumbing. What’s most unusual about the home is that it was made with an 11-foot-tall three-dimensional printer.

A manufacturing process that builds objects layer by layer from a digital file, 3-D printing is set for explosive growth. After a pandemic-related boom from printing objects like test swabs, protective gear and respirator parts, the 3-D printing market is forecast to be worth $55.8 billion by 2027, according to Smithers, a technology consulting firm.

Nearly any object can be printed in 3-D; in construction, it uses concrete, foam and polymers to produce full-scale buildings. The real estate industry is warming to the trend: The construction firm SQ4D listed a 3-D printed house in Riverhead, NY, this year for $299,000. It was billed as the first 3-D printed home for sale in the United States, but it was predated by similar projects in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

And now, the era of the 3-D printed community has arrived. Hernández’s home is one of 500 being built by New Story, a San Francisco nonprofit organization focused on providing housing solutions to communities in extreme poverty, in partnership with Échale, a social housing production company in Mexico, and Icon, a construction technology company in Austin, Texas.

When New Story broke ground on the village in 2019, it was called the world’s first community of 3-D printed homes. Two years and a pandemic later, 200 homes are either under construction or have been completed, 10 of which were printed on-site by Icon’s Vulcan II printer. Plans for roads, a soccer field, a school, a market and a library are in the works.

Single-family homes are a good testing ground for the durability of 3-D printed construction because they are small and offer a repetitive design process without much height, said Henry D’Esposito, who leads construction research at JLL, a commercial real estate firm. They can also be constructed to tolerate natural disasters: Nacajuca sits in a seismic zone, and the homes there have already withstood a magnitude 7.4 earthquake.

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