Building a house is time-consuming, requires a large number of raw materials and labor and is not environmentally friendly. Now, imagine a world where houses are built quickly, yet affordable and even sustainable. This may sound surreal, but it is actually happening — thanks to 3D-printing technology.
Azure Printed Homes, a Los Angeles-based startup, is putting plastic to good use by using it to build 3D-printed homes. The company offers sustainable solutions to two problems: plastics waste and housing shortages. Azure printed homes was founded by entrepreneurs Ross Maguire and Gene Eidelman. The company was recently chosen by the real estate development firm Re-Inhabit to construct 10 rental homes in Southern California.
Furthermore, they follow a sustainable approach to make a house. The process is efficient and reduces the environmental impact. According to the company, it can build homes 70% faster and 30% cheaper compared to the “traditional home construction methods.” The Azure homes are constructed in their Culver City factory and then delivered to the site.
Additionally, the house is said to be 99% finished when it leaves the factory. Following that, it is transported to the destination on a flatbed truck. Once on-site, the only thing left to do is connect the modules together. The printing process takes nearly a day after the house design is finalized. They highlight that over 60% of the print material comes from plastic used in food packaging and plastic bottles. A small house (180 square feet) could be constructed using 100,000 recycled plastic water bottles.
The recycled plastic is combined with other materials to increase the strength and durability of the structure. The company is currently using “post-industrial plastic” to create the printing mix, and they aim to use post-consumer plastic in the years to come. The home also comes with other environmentally-friendly options, such as solar panels and heat pumps, in order to reduce home energy consumption bills.
Azure currently offers homes in three sizes: studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom. Its most affordable home is priced at $26,900 (120 square feet studio). The most expensive and largest home, on the other hand, costs $204,900 and is spread out over 900 square feet with two beds. It should be noted that the aforementioned prices do not include any additional fees, such as delivery or utility hookup.
The company intends to usher in a new era of construction by capitalizing on 3D-printing technology as well as harnessing the power of recycled plastics. Their ambitious project will give plastic a second life, which usually ends up in landfills, oceans or incinerated. It is a critical solution as the global plastic crisis continues to worsen. In fact, from 2000 to 2019, a global plastic waste generation more than doubled to a whopping 353 million tons. The construction industry accounts for roughly 20% of total global carbon emissions. Overall, this solution is beneficial to the environment; however, it is critical to assess the long-term capabilities of 3D-printed homes.
Images via Azure Printed Homes