- Los Angeles-based startup Azure is using recycled plastic to 3D print prefab homes.
- The startup is now selling several models ranging from a backyard studio to a two-bedroom ADU.
- Azure says it can build homes 70% faster and 30% cheaper than “traditional home construction methods.”
Why “reduce, reuse, recycle” when you can just turn your plastic waste into homes?
This may sound like a far-fetched idea, but that’s exactly what one 3D printing home construction startup in Los Angeles is trying to do.
In April, Azure unveiled what it called the world’s first 3D printed “backyard studio” made with recycled plastic materials.
And its plastic-printed studios and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are now available for preorder as the startup prepares to ramp up its production line in the Culver City neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Most 3D printing home builders currently use a form of concrete to create their homes, whether it be a proprietary mix or pure concrete.
But Azure is saying goodbye to this drab grey look by taking a more sustainable approach …
… giving a second life to plastic once destined for landfills or incineration.
Over 60% of Azure’s printing material will use the inherently waterproof plastic polymer often found in plastic bottles and packaging for food, according to the startup.
It’s currently working with three suppliers to source “post-industrial plastic” for its printing mix, Ross Maguire, who cofounded Azure to make construction more efficient and sustainable, told Insider.
But in the future, the goal is to use post-consumer plastic: “Our supply chain should never be short in our lifetime,” he said.
Even without the use of recycled plastic, the nascent 3D printing homebuilding industry has already been heralded as a more sustainable and efficient construction method.
According to its biggest proponents, by using printers instead of people, homes can be built more efficiently using less waste, materials, and time.
And Azure will be no different: The startup says it can build homes 70% faster and 30% cheaper than “traditional home construction methods” by 3D printing the floor, roof, and walls of its models inside its factory.
And with the help of prefabrication, before a unit leaves Azure’s 10,000-square-foot factory in Los Angeles, 99% of its finishes will be complete, Maguire said.
So when it arrives on site via a flatbed truck, the only necessary on-site work will be to connect the home to its foundation and utilities.
Azure currently has several customizable models ranging from small studios to 900-square-foot two-bedroom ADUs.
And these builds are now available for pre-order to be delivered as soon as early November.
But no matter the model or size, these units will all be prefabricated and built using connectable modules that can each be printed in under 24 hours.
The smallest option is the futuristic-looking 120-square-foot Sky Backyard Studio, a $24,900 single-room unit for rooms like a backyard office or gym.
The floor and ceiling are connected by a flowing wall with curved corners, a trademark of 3D printers. Either side of the unit is then encased with glass walls, giving the studio a clean and futuristic look.
Given its smaller size, these studios can be printed within day one, wired by day two, insulated by day three, and then delivered on-site in two weeks, Maguire told Insider.
But if you’re looking for something more substantial, Azure also prints ADUs, which skyrocketed in popularity in 2020.
ADUs extend the square footage of the main home by serving as a backyard guest home or Airbnb.
And Azure’s comes in multiple sizes: a studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom.
These units range from 180 square feet to 900 square feet…
… although the smallest $39,900 option already has a three-month waitlist, according to local news reports.
Inside, there are spaces like a bedroom, living room, bathroom, and even a laundry room in the larger builds.
And unlike the backyard studio, it’s currently available in two designs.
The smaller ADU has a more traditional appearance with a pointed roof (shown below), while the size up features the same futuristic aesthetic as the backyard studio.
When the startup debuted the former look, it saw a “big rush of preorders,” Maguire told Insider.
And moving forward, he believes the company will sell more of this traditional-passing ADU.
Azure has only printed one model so far, although it does have another in the works.
But next month, the startup will receive the last bits of equipment it needs to begin rolling out the production line …
… which should help address its “big backlog of orders” that has already been overloading its one printer, Maguire said.
But given the size of its backlog, one printer isn’t enough: Azure is now running a crowdfunding campaign and is in discussions with venture capitalists to purchase a second or third printer …
… which means this is just the start for the Los Angeles startup with lofty real estate goals.
In December, Azure will unveil a community of 14 3D printed prefabricated homes in California in partnership with a real estate development company.
And in 2024, the startup will begin rolling out larger homes.
Further down the line, Azure may also explore printing housing for the unhoused or for overseas clients …
… and in the future, if the company decides to expand, you could find a pop-up-like Azure production line near you.
“3D printing is a more efficient way of building and it should only get better as we develop the processes, technology, and materials further,” Maguire said. “I can only see it becoming more and more prominent in [construction] as we move forward.”
Read the original article on Business Insider