Why 3D Printing and Tiny Houses Go Hand In Hand

teal tiny houseParticularly if you’re interested in architecture or housing, you have most likely heard of the Tiny House Movement, an architectural phenomenon celebrating the value and ingenuity (as well as the sustainability!) of small homes.

As CNBC explains, the United States is in the throes of “a boom in specialty housing… spurred in part by the high cost of renting and owning, a number of homeowners are literally downsizing their residences to houses that are often a fraction of the size of a typical house.”

These tiny houses are less than 200 square feet, less than a tenth of the size of a standard home. The homes help people escape the trappings of a “big house” and are also far more sustainable than regular homes, according to Patti Gray Whann of Glen Falls Area Realty. “They’re coming from the small carbon footprint versus the McMansion,” she tells the Post Star. “How many dinosaurs do you have to use to heat up a McMansion vs. the tiny house?”

Hit TV shows like the “Tiny House Nation,” “Tiny House Builders,” “Tiny House, Big Living,” and “Tiny House Hunters” have also helped to popularize the phenomenon. As such, manufacturers have jumped in on the phenomenon, manufacturing custom homes in small sizes. Escape Homes markets tiny homes made in America, and Wheelhaus provides an “array of tiny house designs manufactured to meet your needs.”

And as it turns out, the 3D printing revolution and the Tiny Home Movement may not be as far apart as they first appear. 3D printing service bureau Sculpteo notes that there are tiny house designs available for free online, including many parts that can be 3D printed—think custom brackets, shelves, and more.

UCLA architecture and design students even crafted an entirely functional micro house built using 3D printing technology. The house has a bed, a kitchen, a bathroom, and storage space, and can be built in under a day. Urban Design professor Pete Ebner tells Sculpteo, “If you want to develop something new, you have to work with different fields of engineering, like aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry. We said, let’s start from the beginning to think about what 3D printing allows us to integrate in a way that’s not possible in traditional construction.”

In a UCLA release, Ebner explains that he believes in four or five years, many houses on the market will be 3D printed. Even if full houses aren’t printed just yet, Ebner says that the single-step production process could eliminate problems of the construction site when individual parts are found missing or improperly assembled.

You can read the full release here to learn more about the UCLA tiny home, and it’s a pretty fascinating story. As you might imagine, the ramifications of this could be huge. Housing may become cheaper and quicker than ever, and traditionally manufactured modular homes may adapt to use 3D printing in their manufacturing.

We look forward to seeing the trajectory of how 3D printing might inform the world’s architectural movements and development!

photo credit: Tiny house. via photopin (license)