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Giant 3D Printer Builds Homes in 20 Hours

By - Source: Dvice | B 69 comments

Add entire homes to the list of things you can now make using a 3D printer.

Over the past couple of years 3D printing has become more and more impressive, capable of quickly and efficiently creating a large range of objects. But one professor from the University of Southern California has dared to dream even bigger, developing a 3D printing system that could effectively print an entire home in less than a full day.

TEDxOjai - Behrokh Khoshnevis - Contour Crafting: Automated Construction

Called Contour Crafting, the process involves utilizing a gigantic 3D printer that is placed overhead an empty lot where the home will be built. The machine builds walls with multiple layers of concrete, adding plumbing and electrical wiring as it goes and eventually leaves a complete home that only needs doors and windows to complete.

If that wasn't impressive enough, the system can also robotically paint walls or add tiles to the floors. Although Contour Crafting was created with the thought of easy to build, low cost housing in mind, the process can be modified to create luxurious homes or larger buildings. For more information on the project, head on over to the Contour Crafting webpage.


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Top Comments
  • 57 Hide
    Pyree , August 8, 2012 3:17 PM
    Use italic to build the Tower of Pisa.
  • 22 Hide
    Netherscourge , August 8, 2012 3:30 PM
    I'm sure labor unions will picket these machines and throw stuff at them and scream profanities at them.

    Even though the machines can do more in 20 hours than a whole team of construction workers can do in a week.

    And the machine won't demand pay increases 24 hours after signing the building contract.
  • 22 Hide
    Netherscourge , August 8, 2012 3:19 PM
    You probably need "labor" just to set the machine itself up on the empty lot where the house is going to be "printed".

    And then it needs to be disassembled and removed once finished.
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    Jerky_san , August 8, 2012 3:06 PM
    Wish I could invest in this..
  • 20 Hide
    inerax , August 8, 2012 3:15 PM
    Wow.... wonder if this would lower the price of a home. Would the machine cost the same as labor?
  • 57 Hide
    Pyree , August 8, 2012 3:17 PM
    Use italic to build the Tower of Pisa.
  • 22 Hide
    Netherscourge , August 8, 2012 3:19 PM
    You probably need "labor" just to set the machine itself up on the empty lot where the house is going to be "printed".

    And then it needs to be disassembled and removed once finished.
  • 20 Hide
    leo2kp , August 8, 2012 3:21 PM
    Convenience will keep costs high, of course.
  • 22 Hide
    Netherscourge , August 8, 2012 3:30 PM
    I'm sure labor unions will picket these machines and throw stuff at them and scream profanities at them.

    Even though the machines can do more in 20 hours than a whole team of construction workers can do in a week.

    And the machine won't demand pay increases 24 hours after signing the building contract.
  • 13 Hide
    d_kuhn , August 8, 2012 3:33 PM
    Cool idea, I think it'll likely cost more than he's predicting but may still be cost effective. However... he's dreaming if he thinks it wouldn't decimate the labor market for the construction industry. Loss of a lot of labor jobs and gain of a few high skill tech jobs (similar to the robotics industry).
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , August 8, 2012 3:48 PM
    Could you imagine the size of the block of plastic that would be needed. lol
  • 3 Hide
    shin0bi272 , August 8, 2012 3:49 PM
    nowhere does it explain even on their website how they plan on placing a layer of concrete vertically on top of several others while wet and expect it to stand on its own. See when cement is wet it has the compression strength of mud and doesnt like to stand up in a column without a form to hold it there. Partially dried cement doesnt stick to other cement very well and that's not good when youre looking to build a home out of the stuff. Their site makes mention of using piezo electric actuators and ceramics but im pretty sure a ceramic house wont be very sturdy in a hurricane or tornado.

    The idea might work if you took this rig and enclosed it in a huge tub and filled that tub with resin and used a laser to heat up the resin like in a normal 3d printer. But as its designed now its a nice pipe dream but no it wont work for a home.
  • -7 Hide
    Cazalan , August 8, 2012 4:01 PM
    Houses aren't expensive today because of their innate value. It's because of greedy banks and deregulation. CDS/CDOs. That's what caused the housing bubble. They're still 100% over valued and it's crushing the middle class.

  • 5 Hide
    Mesh , August 8, 2012 4:04 PM
    Jacque Fresco instantly came to mind.
  • 7 Hide
    djscribbles , August 8, 2012 4:24 PM
    Donate a few to Habitat for Humanity, talk about optimization.

    Such an awesome idea.
  • -5 Hide
    dark_knight33 , August 8, 2012 4:55 PM
    You can't "print" wiring & plumbing. I understand the concept, but it just doesn't work that way. Even if you could get the copper molten enough to flow, it's not going to just "stick" to the previous layer like resin does. To bond metal, both ends have to be hot, and pressure applied.

    Assuming you used pvc for the plumbing and could effectively print that, there is still no suitable substitute for #10/#12 copper used to wire homes today.

    The idea is essentially the same thing as thinking you can fly by strapping on a giant pair of wings to your arms and jumping off a cliff. Might look like cool if you've never heard of it before, but in practice it's just ridiculous.
  • 0 Hide
    mr_tuel , August 8, 2012 5:07 PM
    A lot of construction workers will lose their jobs if this comes to fruition at a big enough scale. We can't use robots for everything, what will WE do for a living then? Have fun trying to remodel a home with concrete walls. This will make sense for low-cost or low-income housing, where the durability and low cost of concrete makes more sense. I will still buy or build a wood-frame home since that is what I like. Surely plenty of home-buyers will feel the same way.
  • 0 Hide
    SmaugTD , August 8, 2012 5:11 PM
    I see so many ways the machines could be advanced with different toolsets and new materials.
  • 10 Hide
    JeanLuc , August 8, 2012 5:11 PM
    The headline is very misleading. There is no 3D printer that can build a home in 20 hours, yet.
  • 3 Hide
    zenom11 , August 8, 2012 5:18 PM
    You'd think outsourcing job is bad, wait until job elimination then you'd know what's bad. All labor jobs taken over by machines, no more low paying job or much less.

    Imagine if one day people start printing cars. The big 3 stay in MI area and the plants around the country that probaly employ about 100k people or more would only need 10% of those worker to maintain and error check machines. Unemplyoment would propably go 40-60%.
  • 5 Hide
    A Bad Day , August 8, 2012 5:23 PM
    ineraxWow.... wonder if this would lower the price of a home. Would the machine cost the same as labor?


    A possible faster way: Build per-fabricated material, then have the 3D printer put them together.
  • 3 Hide
    3ddraft , August 8, 2012 5:35 PM
    They essentially do this with slip form concrete.

    shin0bi272nowhere does it explain even on their website how they plan on placing a layer of concrete vertically on top of several others while wet and expect it to stand on its own. See when cement is wet it has the compression strength of mud and doesnt like to stand up in a column without a form to hold it there. Partially dried cement doesnt stick to other cement very well and that's not good when youre looking to build a home out of the stuff. Their site makes mention of using piezo electric actuators and ceramics but im pretty sure a ceramic house wont be very sturdy in a hurricane or tornado. The idea might work if you took this rig and enclosed it in a huge tub and filled that tub with resin and used a laser to heat up the resin like in a normal 3d printer. But as its designed now its a nice pipe dream but no it wont work for a home.

  • -1 Hide
    3ddraft , August 8, 2012 5:38 PM
    Really the adoption of this wouldn't be a big issue. Just a few hurdles to overcome in the sequencing of the construction process. This would be an especially helpful setup for developing countries as you could setup a rail system the length of a city block and hit "print" and then go prep the next site while the machine builds each house in succession.
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