3D Printing Fujitsubo Homes: A Low Cost Housing Solution in Japan

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Serendix, a Japanese company, is 3D printing tiny homes at fraction of the price of the average house in Japan and even below the price of many cars. These 538sqft homes come with a bedroom, a bathroom, and open concept living/kitchen space, and are built with steel columns, CNC machine components, and pre-programmed software to make them safe and compliant to Japanese earthquake and insulation standards. The company is aiming to acquire more 3D printers to expand the production of these homes to up to 850 per year.

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3D printing is becoming more popular as a construction method, with multiple companies building entire 3D-printed neighborhoods in various parts of the world. But the technique has come under scrutiny, with critics saying it’s not nearly as cost-effective nor environmentally friendly as advocates claim. A Japanese company called Serendix is hoping to be a case to the contrary; the company is 3D printing tiny homes that cost just $37,600 .

Serendix is also aiming to use 3D printing for urban environments and has expressed interest in building housing units with Moveer, an American company that will develop and market 3D printing devices for urban infrastructure

Admittedly, the homes are quite small at 538 square feet; that’s about the size of a large studio apartment. But their design, called Fujitsubo ("barnacle" in Japanese) includes a bedroom, a bathroom, and an open-concept living/kitchen space. Likely owing to the island nation’s compact geography, the Japanese tend to live in smaller spaces than Americans or Europeans; the average home size in Japan is 93 square meters (just over 1,000 square feet) .

The Fujitsubo home Made with steel columns and pre-programmed software-controlled CNC machinery components, making it structurally sound and built to comply with earthquake and insulation standards

In the US, meanwhile, we take up a lot more space, with our average single-family house occupying 2,273 square feet. The company says the design was created partly to cater to demand from older married couples wanting to downsize during their retirement.The first home Serendix completed in Japan was called the Sphere, though at 107 square feet it was more a proof of concept than an actual house. Printing was completed in less than 24 hours, and the structure was up to code for both Japanese earthquake and European insulation standards .

Serendix is cooperating with the Abbot government of Japan to consider the social and environmental impacts of the Fujitsubo

The company said they envision the Sphere having multiple purposes, including providing emergency housing or serving as a stand-alone cabin or hotel room for vacationers. Its cost to build was $25,500.Fujitsubo is a bit different in that its walls are printed in separate sections that are then attached to its foundation with steel columns. The roof is made of panels that are cut by a computer numerical control (CNC) machine, in which pre-programmed software controls the movement of factory tools and machinery .

The company is using a build-operate-transfer structure in which it sells the house to the customer, manages it for a certain period of time, then transfers it for free once the customer is ready

Serendix said it took 44.5 hours to print and assemble the home. One of the issues cited by detractors of 3D-printed construction is that the method isn’t feasible in dense urban areas, which tend to be where there’s the most need for low-cost housing; there’s not a lot of extra space or empty land available in big cities, and even if there is, it’s not efficient or cost-effective to plunk down a 3D-printed home .

Along with their Fujitsubo projects, Serendix is also developing a modular housing system for More than 6 people

Serendix gets this, and they’re aiming to stay away from building in big cities, focusing instead on small towns where there’s more land available. Given the exodus from city centers that happened during the pandemic and the increased number of people who are now working remotely, the company believes there could be a strong market for its homes in non-urban locations. Once they receive safety approvals, Serendix plans to sell its first six Fujitsubo homes for the equivalent of $37,600—well below the average price of a home in Japan (and below the price of many cars) .

The company is also aiming to provide the affordable housing market with parking structures and interior design for customisation

The company currently has five 3D printers, and it says each one can build up to 50 homes in a year. It’s aiming to acquire 12 more printers, giving it the capacity to build as many as 850 houses in a year.In Tokyo, Serendix believes 3D printing could help with the housing crisis, providing surprisingly affordable and environmentally-friendly homes. The Fujitsubo, their 3D-printed tiny homes that cost just $37,600, is a proof of concept that these homes have a place in Japan and around the world .

This 538sqft home is packed with a bedroom, a bathroom, and an open concept living/kitchen space, and its price is low enough that it competes with the average price for a car. Serendix plans to produce these homes more efficiently as they are constantly developing processes to innovate their 3D printing approach, aiming to build up to 850 homes in a year.

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