It seems like you can make just about any little nicknack with a 3D printer these days, but what about large-scale items?
What if you could design a home with CAD/CAM software and then use a 3D printer to construct it? A company called Contour Crafting is working to make this futuristic idea become a reality.
Developed by Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of Southern California, the contour crafter—a 3D printing robot—fabricates large-scale parts quickly in a layer-by-layer method.
Instead of using thermoplastics, the robot, which looks like a crane with a hanging delivery nozzle, layers concrete to create walls based on an architect’s design. It reinforces the walls as it builds, and leaves spaces for things like plumbing and electric. After the robot is finished, human construction workers come in to finish up details such as hanging doors and putting up windows.
According to Contour Crafting, a wall created by the 3D printer and tested in-house has 10,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) strength, versus an average 3,000 PSI for a regularly constructed wall, meaning that these printed structures will be stronger than your typical building.
Having to wait months for a home could also be a thing of the past. Dr. Khoshnevis and his team say their machine can build a 2,500 square-foot house in less than 24 hours, which not only cuts an immense amount of time from the construction process, but also would save on cost.
Could this innovation potentially revolutionize the construction industry?
The general consensus is that yes, it very well could. The research team behind Contour Crafting believes that this technology could cut down on the cost of owning a home, and it could also provide potential relief for the millions of people across the globe who have been displaced by natural disasters and war.
Do you think there’s a use for 3D printed homes?