Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization


What is the name of your solution?

Minvayu Portable House Printer

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Open source modular house 3Dprinter designed to be built by village mechanics and entrepreneurs to encourage use of mud/lime/fiber housing globally

What specific problem are you solving?

Current low cost housing options worldwide use oven baked bricks and cement/steel reinforcement which are materials that are coming mostly from outside the village or town.  In addition, costs of all materials especially steel are increasing and alternatives are needed to replace these.

Ancestral building techniques using lime and mud walls along with natural fibers have shown to last for centuries, but the cost of building in this way is expensive because of materials used and labor involved.  Sadly around the world villagers are replacing mud structures with bricks and cement because labour shortages demand fast methods for building or rebuilding of structures. 

If we can combine the insulation quality of thick adobe walls but use technology that can replicate, rebuild, replace or build new housing at a competitive price point is the holy grail of low cost housing.  In addition, materials MUST be local as this lowers the cost even further and creates a virtuous cycle for the local economy.

What is your solution?

A training program on how to build simple house 3D printers using pipe, 3D printed components, clamps and a small amount of ingenuity are enabling youth in rural India to test materials and start to design both decorative and functional house components and furniture.    The Minvayu Fablab is based in Auroville, south India and it is here where our project aims to develop the next phase of open source printing technology for low cost housing.

Our open source 3D printing solution enables local fabrication of the equipment and encourages the use of local materials including natural fiber reinforcement and the use of waste biomass to create wall structures that improve up to 10 times insulation qualities over conventional materials.

Our next milestone is the development of an open source modular portable printer that can be material agnostic and allows for multiple configurations for the machine so that any possible size constraint can be met for the fabrication of low cost housing in rural as well as urban areas.  

This is a global call to action to help us develop the Minvayu Portable House Printer (MHP) with collaborations from students, volunteers, companies, entrepreneurs and anybody interested in lowering the cost of housing PLUS making housing that can be net carbon positive.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

There are two different beneficiaries of this project which are those involved in the entrepreneurial construction of housing and the others are the individuals and communities benefiting from sustainable housing.

Without a low cost, locally made 3D printer the entrepreneurs cannot consider using this technology.  If we want to revolutionize house building we need to open source the machine and the formulation.  This has been demonstrated in the desktop 3D printing industry with the RepRap movement, and in can be transferred to large format printing also.

Concurrently the beneficiaries of the technology are global societies that need new housing, which are predominantly low income and families that are establishing deep roots in their communities and investing in a home.  Housing in general should not cost 25 years of savings but rather a much smaller fraction so that everybody can live a dignified life.

The energy life cycle of the house should also be minimal where keeping your home warm or cool depending on the season can be affordable.  Smart design must include energy efficiency and carbon sink possibilities which will make for a more sustainable lifestyle no matter your income level.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Minvayu is part of the Auroville Center for Scientific Research Trust, a part of the Auroville Foundation, based in South India. 

We have been involved in sustainable building technologies for many years.  In addition, we have spent the last 10 years developing open source machinery solutions and adapting them to the local fabrication skills and materials.  We disseminate technology through training programs where we share our know how with those interested in learning how to build.

Since 2017 we have build and tested large format printers that are build using basic tools and materials and created machinery that can process recycled plastic, cement, lime, ceramic.  In addition we are recycling ocean plastic waste and making bathroom doors and furniture.  All machines are built by our students who are coming from local high schools, engineering students from around the world and recent underemployed university graduates interested in enabling local change.

Before Covid we started a training program on how to build and operate large format 3D printers having university students and entrepreneurs involved.  Finally this summer we restart our program with the development of the next generation printer, the Minvayu House Printer.

Our Global team is made up of senior engineers and a enthusiastic group of young engineers, designers and architects from India and overseas.  

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Enable mass production of inexpensive and low-carbon housing, including changes to design, materials, and construction methods.

Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Our solution's stage of development:


How many people does your solution currently serve?


Why are you applying to Solve?

Funding open source projects is challenging, especially in India where IP and most funding is targeted to VC and corporate structures.

We have applied to corporate CSR funding as well as innovation funding but in a mix of Covid priorities and little understanding of open source technologies we do not neatly fit into their funding criteria.

As an open source project being able to tap into the Solver network is an ideal way to promote and expand our reach.  After all, MIT is where the FabLab and open source movement started!  We lack the global network that is needed for this project to truly take off.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Jorge Ayarza, Minvayu Founder

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

All house 3D printers we have seen until now have been proprietary designs along with printing formulation that is also kept under wraps.  This may be a good way to develop the technology in more advanced countries, but in developing nations where the needs is the largest we need to look at other options.

An open source platform enables many design ideas to be tested and modified, but we need a base platform to start showing how it can be done before others take the plunge.  We are already wet and want to do more and better.

The technology is too complex for one solution fits all as we live in different weather conditions, with different bugs and climate.  Auroville is a hot, humid, dry evergreen forest with climate that wreaks havoc on cement structures.  We need to test new concepts in house design, new materials that can help us replace steel/cement and our work on lime blocks with termite protection using natural forest "tea" mix uses old know how fined tune by generations of builders.  

We are a team of makers that have managed to build large format printers with minimal budgets and lots of volunteer work.  Our work shows our commitment to the cause and belief that the future is made as a collaborative global community making everything local.  

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

Year 1

  • Build prototype hybrid printer capable of polar and cartesian modes
  • Test printer using lime/cement/natural fiber and recycled fiber mixes
  • Create first university house printing competition (India)

Year 2-5

  • Design low cost housing meeting India construction codes
  • Design carbon positive housing for tropical climates
  • Design low cost housing for seismic regions
  • Train youth in digital mason technologies
  • Encourage women and minorities in construction 
  • Create house printing festival/conference in India
  • Use lime/natural fiber construction for low cost housing
  • Use ocean waste for local fabrication of reinforced high strength cement
  • Design 3d printed cement pump
  • Design in-column 3D printer for reconstruction efforts
  • Use recycled plastic + waste biomass materials for sustainable house furniture/appliances (3D printed or press/injection moulding) - All made on-site using renewable energy as input source
  • Design net carbon sink housing with in-built waste water treatment
  • Design in-built 3D printed dry toilet with bum salt water jet cleaner for open defecation beach prevention (something needed in India)

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

  • Number of students trained
  • Number of women and minorities trained
  • How many students continued to advanced courses
  • How many students changed their career paths because of the course
  • How many products we are making
  • How many volunteers we have
  • How much funding we have received
  • How many machines we have made

What is your theory of change?

In India as well as many developing countries youth and those able to pursue jobs outside move to areas with higher probability of income generation.  Over the longer term this causes shortages of labour for rural activities, including agriculture and construction.  

Migrating trends to cities exacerbates life in rural areas and abandonment of rural hamlets, loss of economic potential and diminishment of both population growth and economic activities become a vicious cycle of poverty for rural areas.  Open Source fabrication of advanced manufacturing equipment allows for the need of automation in manufacturing and construction activities both for rural hamlets as well as small towns and cities.  Advanced manufacturing capacity for rural areas can regenerate a distributed fabrication that can become engines of growth for youth and minorities anywhere, including rural areas.  Open source machinery encourages local fabrication with global ideas encouraging online collaboration while also enabling small scale manufacturing nearer to the areas with need.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

Our project takes advantage in the advances in open source 3D printing technology, especially software and control systems that have evolved from simple 8bit controllers to 32 bit sophisticated circuits with subsequent advances in reliability and capacities.  

The key advance is the scaling into large format 3D printing at low cost enabling the technology to use advances in printer controllers, but hacking it to work well with 3D printing of vernacular ancient construction methods including the 3D printing of adobe blocks with any type of reinforcement including natural and artificial fibers, lime, cement or a variety of nanomaterials.  

Currently the technology desiged by Minvayu uses lime-based wall blocks that use waste agricultural inputs and using traditional construction methods still used in rural India we prepare termite protection "tea" fermented from natural barks and leaves.  This old-style mix is used in the 3D printing of walls that are breathable and by using lime the hardening of the wall happens over time with the absorption of CO2, therefore the walls are transformed into rock in this method.  

This project wants to spearhead the availability of low cost house printers that can use natural materials to lower construction costs PLUS we make something that is good for the earth, the environment and the health of those living in these houses.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Materials Science
  • Robotics and Drones

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 4. Quality Education
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 15. Life on Land

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • India

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • India
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?


How many people work on your solution team?

1full time, 3 part time, 5 volunteers

How long have you been working on your solution?

5 years

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

Our projects are open to all, and we are especially happy to encourage women, minorities, youth and low income individuals into our projects.  As a member of a minority and having experienced some discrimination our founder has always wished to encourage all individuals to be part of our movement.  

As an open source project we work with volunteers from all backgrounds both from India and from around the world.  Global inclusion in our project is very important in addition to be open minded regarding the opinions and points of view on many subjects.

We are based in a multinational, multiethnic and mixed social and cultural area where collaboration and cooperation plus respect torwards humanity is of primary importance.

Solution Team

  • Mr. Jorge Ayarza Director, Minvayu/Auroville Center for Scientific Research
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