3D Printer That Can Build a 2,500-square-foot House in 24 Hours

NEW YORK | Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 9:54pm EDT

The University of Southern California is testing a new technology, called Contour Crafting, that might build a whole house in under 24 hours.

The 3D Printer That Can Build a 2500 square foot House in 24 Hours 01

Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis has designed a system of building that replaces construction workers with a machine that can quickly build a concrete home based on a computer pattern. Photo: Contour Crafting.

At a TED talk in Ojai, Calif., Behrokh Khoshnevis, director of the Manufacturing Engineering Graduate Program at the University of Southern California, said nearly 1 billion people in the world don’t have access to adequate shelter, a situation that breeds poverty, disease, illiteracy, crime and overpopulation.

And now a team at University of Southern California is working at 3D printing method that will be able to build a 2,500-square-foot house in only 20 hours. The team calls this method Contour Crafting.

The Contour Crafting system, designed by Professor Khoshnevis, represents a giant robot that replaces construction workers with a nozzle on a gantry, this squirts out concrete and can quickly build a home according to a computer pattern, reports MSN Innovation.

It is “basically scaling up 3D printing to the scale of building,” says Khoshnevis.  The buildings are “designed on computer and built by a computer”. Contour Crafting 3D printers could even do the electrical work, plumbing, tiling, finishing work and painting.

The 3D printer builds the wall layer by layer and they will be hollow to save on materials and make them lighter. However, team leader Khoshevis has pointed out during a presentation earlier this year that the walls will be stronger than traditional counterparts. Since the design of each house could easily be customized on the computers, Contour Crafting can even avoid a nightmare of homogenous track homes.

Khoshnevis said his goal with the project is to quickly, safely and more efficiently produce entire neighborhoods in impoverished areas.   For example, after an event such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which has displaced almost 600,000 people, Contour Crafting could be used to build replacement homes quickly.

“At the dawn of the 21st century [slums] are the condition of shelter for nearly one billion people in our world,” says Khoshnevis, “These buildings are breeding grounds for disease a problem of conventional construction which is slow, labour intensive and inefficient.”

Contour Crafting is set to enter the commercial market in about two years, and this will also have big implications for the field of construction.  According to Khoshnevis’s estimation, Contour Crafting will save the construction 20 percent to 25 percent in financing and 25 percent to 30 percent in materials, what is good.

The biggest savings would come in labor, where Contour Crafting would save 45 percent to 55 percent by using 3D printers instead of humans, what is bas, as people mare likely to lose their jobs.  But even here Khoshnevis has a point saying that Countour Crafting will create new jobs, particularly providing women and older workers a chance to work in new areas of construction.

However, thinking about the amount of workers being injured during the construction, you would probably agree with him. Every year up to 400,000 construction workers become injured and 6,000 to 10,000 construction workers get killed in the U.S. alone. However, by replacing many of them by 3D printers, there will be a lot of layoffs. There are two sides to every coin, says 3Dprinting.com.

NASA is currently sponsoring the Contour Crafting project to construct 3D printers that can produce lunar structures, so anyway this technology will be useful, either here, or in space.

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