Imagine building a custom home in less than a day using a 3D printer. Behrokh Khoshnevis, director of the graduate manufacturing engineering program at the University of Southern California, says it’s possible; soon you too can build a 2,500-square-foot residence in 20 hours using “contour crafting”, a 3D printing technique.
Contour crafting is an automated robotic building process that is stronger, faster, safer, cheaper, and more eco-friendly than manual construction, according to Khoshnevis. Using this process, a massive robotic printer lays out concrete and interlocking steel bars to build a structure and then “prints out” the plumbing, electrical networks, walls and flooring.
The technology allows for unprecedented architectural flexibility, so builders can create unusual design features or unique footprints. “The walls do not have to be linear; you can make them curved simply by changing a computer program,” Khoshnevis said in a TED Talk. As he recently told CBS News, the technology is highly affordable and so versatile that it can be used to build homes in slums or areas struck by natural disasters…even to construct human habitats on other planets.
Khoshnevis believes contour crafting will replace traditional building methods, making design and construction accessible and affordable for anyone.
With its myriad of applications, 3D printing will have a profound impact on virtually all industries. Currently, the construction industry is lagging behind, but for innovative architects, builders, and the real estate industry, technology such as contour crafting offers exciting possibilities.