3D printing is still a relatively new technology. While it’s possible to buy a Makerbot or even a 3D pen, this is still a technique to which few people have immediate access. 3D printing may be about to hit a lot closer to home…as in, your actual home.
Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis at the University of Southern California has developed a fabrication technology – Contour Crafting – that uses a set of rails, and a giant 3d printer to layer concrete based on a computer design. It’s possible that an entire structure could be raised in as little as 24 hours. The aim is to complete the entire structural design – including conduit for electrical, plumbing, etc. in one pass. Afterwards, the windows, doors, and fixtures would still need to be installed by hand.
The uses for this sort of technology are numerous – emergency shelter, low income housing, other residential or commercial uses, etc. But Contour Crafting is aiming higher – outside of our atmosphere in fact. In addition to terrestrial uses, the team has been researching the viability of Contour Crafting for use in constructing lunar or Martian structures. The goal would be to send one ship with a giant 3d printer and materials, then send astronauts later once construction is complete.
So would you live in a 3D printed house? It may be an option sooner than you might think.
Here’s a video showing the machine in use.