Just for fun I drew this tiny house scale model one rainy Sunday. My kids think it’s great and want one too.
The whole process of drawing it got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a 3D printed tiny house with movable furniture, cabinets, stairs, appliances, and so on? It would make a great toy & tool for working out the details of a tiny house floor plan.
So I kept drawing and a couple weeks later I have worked out most of the details – in miniature. In a few days I’ll be able to show you in photographs what I can up with… but in the meantime here are a few of the drawings.
Designing for the 3D printing process is a bit tricky to learn – as well as keeping the cost of parts down. I’m currently having them printed at Shapeways.com – a leading 3D printing company. The material I’ve chosen to use is a Nylon plastic, which is very strong and slightly flexible.
Connecting the pieces with interlocking sprues drops the printing cost. Shapeways doesn’t recommend using sprues, but I think I’ve found a good way to do it and currently testing. The sprues should be easy to remove with an Exacto knife. I’ve also found that the cost can be lowered sometimes by laying larger parts flat in some cases – as shown above.
The printing process is SLS (selective laser sintering). Unlike most 3D printing processes where layers of melted plastic are layered up, SLS uses a laser to fuse a nylon power into the 3D part in the illustration. When done, the completed parts are pulled out of the unfused powder – like toys from a snowbank. See the Shapeways video below to see how SLS works.
3D printing costs are calculated by adding up the material cost with the machine cost. In other words, the amount of plastic the model uses in cubic centimeters plus the volume the 3D part needs inside the printer itself. So to reduce cost, one must reduce size.
The scale I chose to use is 1:48 – a common, yet smaller, dollhouse scale. I figured using an existing dollhouse scale would allow people to use any 1:48 scale dollhouse furniture they could find. This scale also allows a 24-foot tiny house to fit within the 3D printer without needing to break long walls into multiple segments.
Below are more sample illustrations. I added a ruler to show the actual scale in inches.
Printed this way the current cost of a fully furnished model would run between $150 and $200. That sounds high to me, but 3D printing isn’t as inexpensive as we’d all like – yet.
But as demand goes up, cost comes down. If enough people like this idea, I’ll definitely look harder into other ways to manufacture this scale model.
I really want to know what you think, so please comment below. Would you want a miniature tiny house model?