A startup is making tiny 3D-printed houses from recycled materials

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(Photo: Azure)
A California startup is using eco-friendly materials to build tiny houses using a massive 3D printer.

Los Angeles-based Azure specializes in secondary suites, or ADUs, which are typically next to or behind a primary residence on the same lot. Its designs are very modern: glass walls, recessed lighting, and pocket doors give each unit a penthouse vibe despite sitting in the backyard of another home. But it’s not the company’s aesthetic choices that grab the attention. This is how his units are built.

Azure uses a large 3D printer to produce each unit’s structural skeleton, exterior cladding, water control barrier, exterior finish, utility walkways, and interior finish grounding. This is usually done in 20 hours or less. It is at this stage that functional and creative touches can be added, such as cabinetry and faux wood panels. According to a report According to Business Insider, more than 60% of the material used in Azure’s 3D printing process is made of recycled plastic polymer, which is commonly found in water bottles and food packaging. Most ADUs are connected to the utility lines of their destination lots within 3 days.

(Photo: Azure)

Whether Azure units can be considered affordable really depends on the nuances of personal circumstances. A 120-square-foot one-room garden studio starts at $24,900, while a 180-square-foot ADU (with its own bathroom and kitchenette) starts at $39,900. ADU floor plans are quite varied, with two-bedroom units costing just under $200,000. In a way, these are good prices – residences at this price are hard to find in the US these days, at least without sacrificing aesthetics or quality. Unlike buying a traditional home, however, these units have no terra cotta to sit on. Clients need a place to house their unit, and whether that’s financially or convincing a family member to give up part of their lot is easier said than done.

3D printed houses are not entirely new. Last year, Habitat for Humanity provided its first-ever 3D-printed home, a 1,200 square foot residence in Virginia, to a single mother and her 13-year-old son. (The house was even equipped with its own 3D printer, in case the family needed to replace any of the original structural elements.) A few months earlier, Florida had authorized its first 3D printed building for residential use. However, Azure could become a pioneer when it comes to the materials used in this modern and efficient construction technique.

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