Publications

- December 1, 2022: Vol. 34, Number 11

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Disrupting the prefab sector: Manufactured housing gets a tech-driven makeover

by Deborah Smith

Manufactured housing is a not a new, new thing. Not even close. I remember talking about it with a group of multifamily developers years ago during my days at CBRE Global Investors (now CBRE Global Investment Management). So, why are we talking about it now? Technology. That’s right — the niche sector of manufactured housing is due for an overhaul, with technological advances in additive manufacturing, otherwise known as 3D printing, at the center.

But let’s back up and clarify what we are talking about when we say “manufactured housing.” These are houses made in components in a factory (prefabricated) and shipped to a location for permanent, onsite installment and assembly. We are not talking about the mobile home or trailer segment (but, as an aside, 3D printing may make these segments obsolete at some point in the future).

Now, let’s talk technology. The industry still considers 3D printing new and in its infancy. However, the technology is fast evolving

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