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Giant 3D Printer Builds Homes in 20 Hours

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.

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.

Tuan Mai
Tuan Mai is a Los Angeles based writer and marketing manager working within the PC Hardware industry. He has written for Tom's Guide since 2010, with a special interest in the weird and quirky.
  • Jerky_san
    Wish I could invest in this..
  • inerax
    Wow.... wonder if this would lower the price of a home. Would the machine cost the same as labor?
  • Pyree
    Use italic to build the Tower of Pisa.
  • Netherscourge
    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.
  • leo2kp
    Convenience will keep costs high, of course.
  • Netherscourge
    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.
  • d_kuhn
    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).
  • Could you imagine the size of the block of plastic that would be needed. lol
  • shin0bi272
    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.
  • Cazalan
    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.