As the applications of 3D-printing get more and more elaborate, it might not surprise you to hear that researchers at the University of Southern California are testing a giant 3D printer that could be used to build an entire house in under 24 hours. The technology, known as “Contour Crafting,” was designed by Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis, and aims to replace construction workers with a giant robot.
Brad Lemley from Discover Magazine explains how the system would work:
On a cleared and leveled site, workers would lay down two rails a few feet further apart than the eventual building’s width and a computer-controlled contour crafter would take over from there. A gantry-type crane with a hanging nozzle and a components-placing arm would travel along the rails. The nozzle would spit out concrete in layers to create hollow walls, and then fill in the walls with additional concrete… humans would hang doors and insert windows.
Contour Crafting could significantly reduce the cost of home-owning, and also be used in disaster relief areas to build emergency and replacement housing. The system could also be used to build large office blocks and even tower blocks. “You can have multi-nozzle machines and even have the structure climb the building,” says Khoshnevis.
Even though the robot was named one of the 25 best inventions in 2006 by the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the History Channel’s Modern Marvels program, it is still being tested and there are no clear dates for when it would be fully-functional. There are plenty of other concerns about how many construction workers would lose their jobs that still need to be fully considered as well.
Images: Contour Crafting