It sounds like an April Fool’s Day prank, but 3D printers have come a long way since the first models starting churning out little tchotchkes. Nowadays we’re seeing 3D-printed (and functional) hearts, hands, and now houses. Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis at the University of Southern California wants to “scale up 3D-printing to building-scale” with the project “Contour Crafting.” We’re not talking about dollhouses, here.
This gigantic 3D concrete printer is an onsite house-factory. A computer-controlled gantry system moves a nozzle back and forth squirting out concrete in whatever design is programmed. According to Contour Crafting’s website, this system uses “layered fabrication technology and has great potential for automating the construction of whole structures as well as sub-components.”
These mass-produced houses are built, layer-by-layer, embedded with conduits for plumbing, electricity, and air-conditioning. And if this wasn’t awesome enough for you—the homes can be finished in 24 hours.
Contour Crafting’s endeavor offers a lot in functionality and opens up a large range of opportunities and usages. Unlike a previous 3D-printed “endless house” project by a Dutch architect in 2013 this undertaking has a lot more than just “cool-factor.”
Speedily-created houses will make emergency housing, commercial buildings, and low-income housing a lot easier and quicker to build, hopefully revolutionizing the way we deal with poverty and natural disaster. Oh yeah, and they want to build houses on Mars.
Those at Contour Crafting explain that their “research also addresses the application of Contour Crafting in building habitats on other planets. Contour Crafting will most probably be one of the very few feasible approaches for building structures on other planets, such as the Moon and Mars, which are being targeted for human colonization before the end of the new century.”
Between potential space-colonization and replacing some construction workers with concrete-spurting printers, it seems that science fiction is becoming closer to reality each day.