Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis just upped the 3D printing game in a big way. He and his team of scientists at the University of Southern California invented a machine that can build a 2,500-square-foot concrete house in just 24 hours.
The process is called Contour Crafting, which includes a giant 3D printer embedded on a computer-controlled gantry system that robotically squirts out fast drying concrete layer by layer to rapidly build walls of a house. The machine leaves space in the walls for electrical, plumbing, air-conditioning and other utilities to be installed.
Khoshnevis and his team claim that by automating the construction process – which traditionally has been human labour intensive– homes could potentially be built cheaper and quicker, with significantly lower labor costs.
“I was unhappy with the very low speed of 3D Printing machines,” said Khoshnevis, when asked how he came up with the idea for the technology. “I wanted to improve the printing speed so I decided to make the layers much thicker, but as I experimented I found that the surface quality became weaker with thicker layers. I solved the problem with the invention of Contour Crafting, allowing builds to progress much more rapidly. With the faster speed I began looking at building much larger objects, and eventually I started building houses.”
Khoshnevis claims the entry level version of the technology may be in-market as early as a year from now and will be a viable option to build low-cost emergency, low-income and commercial housing.
He will be presenting his invention and ideas for its use at the 2014 International Housing and Home Warranty Conference in Vancouver, September 7 to 10.
“Dr. Khoshnevis’ invention is really intriguing and gets our conference attendees thinking about the future of housing and where technology can take use,” said Wendy Acheson, Vice President and Registrar, Homeowner Protection Office and Organizing Committee Chair for the event. “The conference is bringing housing and home warranty specialists to Vancouver from around the globe, creating a think-tank environment. Dr. Khoshnevis is just one of the many innovative speakers who will be presenting their inventions, experiences and ideas.”
Contour Crafting was selected as one of the top 25 out of more than 4000 candidate inventions by the History Channel’s Modern Marvels program and the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame; and has been identified as one of the major disruptive technologies of our time.
Khoshnevis’ website also alludes to the team working with NASA to potentially use the technology to build habitats on other planets. He confirms that his team has been working closely with NASA for the past few years, and claims they have made significant progress in demonstrating that viable structures can be built on the moon and Mars using on-site material only.
Held every three years, the International Housing & Home Warranty Conference will be held in Vancouver September 7-10, 2014. For more information, visit www.ihhwc2014.ca.