Thursday, November 14, 2013

3D Printing entire neighborhoods?

A program director at the University of Southern California is developing a 3D Printing process that could build entire houses.
The process is called Contour Crafting, basically giant 3D printers that create walls, doors and windows. 3D printing could conceivably also do the electrical, plumbing, tile and finish work on a house. 

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The concept involves large-scale 3D printers that use nozzles spraying a dense high-performance concrete. Similar to a small-scale printer, Contour Crafting would create the walls layer by layer from the ground up. To save on materials, the walls are hollow. But by contrast, the walls themselves would be rated stronger than traditional homes. The team at USC is currently building a printer that could create a 2,500 square foot house in as little as 20 hours. 
NASA is sponsoring the project in hopes of using the large-scale printing technology to produce structures on the moon. But Contour Crafting could easily create entire neighborhoods. The creators hope to be able to use the printers to build affordable homes in impoverished areas. Each could also be completely customized before building, meaning low-cost housing would not necessarily have to be track housing. 
And instead of eliminating building jobs, the team at USC believes the new process would lead to job creation, just in a different way. They liken it to the industrial revolution wherein fewer people became farmers, but food production didn't suffer. The farmers that remain are now more involved in production than physical labor. The Contour Crafting team believes printing homes would follow the same logic. 

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