Contour Crafting: 3D House Printer

Perhaps you've used those programs that let you design your dream house, creating a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file. Not quite ready to take up the hammer and start building? Can you imagine a device large enough to let you "print" your house right straight from the drawings?

Behrokh Khoshnevis (USC Engineering) has been perfecting his contour crafter. The material used is a semi-liquid quick-setting, concrete-like compound. The system is able to make calls to onsite experts for insertion of plumbing and wiring as the construction effort proceeds.

Contour Crafting House Behrokh Khoshnevis

House construction is an incredibly wasteful process. It is estimated that builders in the United States generate approximately 31 million tons of construction waste, almost one-quarter of the total municipal solid waste stream in the United States. Khoshnevis claims that contour crafting could substantially reduce these numbers.

Dr. Khoshnevis' goal?

"The goal is to be able to completely construct a one-story, 2000-square foot home on site, in one day and without using human hands."

This robot takes instructions from a CAD drawing and then squirts layers of semi-liquid construction material to build up vertical walls and domed roofs. The device runs on tracks that enclose the proposed structure like a container ship crane. The first house is scheduled to be built in 2005. [Note: April, 2007 is the announced date.]

There are a couple of science fiction tie-ins for this idea. For a hotel that puts itself together (albeit brick-by-brick) see Bambakias Hotel, from Bruce Sterling's 1998 novel Distraction. Another interesting idea that uses a similar technique on a small scale is nanofax, from William Gibson's 1999 novel All Tomorrow's Parties: this item has an extensive discussion of stereolithography, a method of rapid prototyping that is the direct ancestor of contour crafting.

Khoshnevis has plans for the Moon as well:

"We plan to explore the applicability of the CC technology for building habitats on the Moon and Mars...

The lunar regolith, for example, may be used as the construction material. Other researchers have shown that lunar regolith can be sintered using microwave to produce construction materials such as bricks. We envision a Contour Crafting system that uses a limited amount of water to form a small batch of the lunar material into paste form. Once extruded and deposited in the desirable location, the water could be extracted and recycled for the next batch of material. Microwave sintering using solar power can be integrated into the system and hence progressively cured structures of various complexities could be built."
(Automated Construction using Contour Crafting - Applications on Earth and Beyond)

Update 01-Feb-2007 See also this follow-up article: Contour Crafting House Printer Nears Test. (End Update.)

Update 01-Feb-2014The earliest sf reference (not to mention the earliest reference period) that I know of for 3D printing is from Things Pass By, a 1945 story by Murray Leinster:

It makes drawings in the air following drawings it scans with photo-cells. But plastic comes out of the end of the drawing arm and hardens as it comes. This thing will start at one end of a ship or a house and build it complete to the other end, following drawings only.
(Read more about Leinster's Plastic Constructor)

(End Update.) For more details see Robot Builder could 'print' houses (NewScientist.com). Don't miss the very cool animation showing how it works: Animation of Contour Crafting in House Construction. Contour Crafting and Selective Inhibition of Sintering provides additional details and links.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/11/2004)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 11 )

Related News Stories - (" Manufacturing ")

3D Printing An Entire Car
"... Almost as good as the original it was printed from."- Philip K. Dick, 1956.

Self-Building, Self-Tooling, Autonomous Manufacturing
'The machinery was building a miniature replica of the demolished factory.'- Philip K. Dick, 1953.

3D Printing Is Here - Pay For The Printer!
'On the concrete platform, in front of the dying Biltong, lay a heap of originals to be duplicated.'- Philip K. Dick, 1955.

3D Printing: The End Of Global Supply Chains?
'Nanofax AG offers a technology that digitally reproduces objects, physically, at a distance.'- William Gibson, 1999.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Bookies Let You Place Your Bets On the Future!
Put your money where your mouth is, sf fans!

How Do Americans See The Future Of Technology?
Do you want to participate in the future?

Flying Graffiti Drone Will Alter The Urban Landscape
The tagger's dream - lie in bed while painting at a remote location.

Should Autonomous Cars Have Feelings About Crashes?
'Robots have worse problems than anybody.'

M-Block Modular Robots Assemble Themselves
'... as though a child should build from nursery blocks a fantastic shape which abruptly is filled with throbbing life.'

Augmented Reality Ship's Bridge From Rolls Royce
'... the immense, three-dimensional, minutely cubed model...'

Artificial Blood From Factories
This blood's for you.

Wrigley's Anti-Impotence Chewing Gum
'Chew one of these, Mr. Chip.'

Arcology Now Universal Constructor
'... the hotel direly wanted to exist.'

MisTable Fog Display Like SeaQuest DSV
Captain Bridger, a message is coming in.

Full-Size Invisibility Cloak Now Possible
'I donned it and drew its hood, and threw on its current.'

Bioengineered Muscle Grows In Mice
'Joeboys... shoulders bulging with grafted muscle.'

Self-Assembling Nanoparticles Move Like Tiny Gears
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically...'

PredPol Predicting Crime As It Happens
'All day long the idiots babbled...'

UK Internet Filters Default To 'Family-Friendly'
'People bought personalized filter programs...'

NASA Gives Away Rocket Code - For Dads
'The rocket thundered and leaped. The children danced in their hammocks, screaming.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.