Aug 2, 2016 | By Tess

While the world’s housing crisis and NASA’s ambitions to build a small liveable base on the moon may seem like vastly different problems, they may in fact have the same solution. Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor of engineering from the University of Southern California, is developing a method for 3D printing structures called Contour Crafting that could be the solution for both creating low-cost and liveable housing for low-income regions and for efficiently creating housing in space.

Khoshnevis has spent the last decade working on a gigantic 3D printer that can print an entire home. His Contour Crafting is essentially a method for 3D printing housing structures out of concrete that incorporates all the necessary conduits for electrical, plumbing, and air conditioning units. One of the most appealing aspects of the Contour Crafting method, is how quickly it can actually build a home. Specifically, the concrete 3D printer can build a 2,000 square-foot house, with all electrical and plumbing utilities in under 24 hours.

Here on earth, Khoshnevis’ 3D printing technology could offer huge benefits for low-income regions, especially those that are hit by natural disasters. According to reports from the World Health Organization, over 863 million people live in slums, with people living under makeshift shelters and decrepit shanties. With Contour Crafting, Khoshnevis is hoping to eventually make a dent in these staggering figures by opening up the possibilities for cheap, fast, but still adequate housing.

"People who don't have good shelter are desperate people — people who also don't have social security, education. Theres a lot of things that go with that," Khoshnevis said. "The place to start is improve their shelter conditions.”

If you’re wondering how the Contour Crafting method would cut back on costs, consider that materials like concrete slabs would not have to be transported to the build site because all the necessary building materials are created on the spot. In addition to cutting back on transportation costs, the automated building method would effectively reduce the number of human workers needed, thus lowering overall costs and making construction and development in low-income regions more feasible.

Khoshnevis’ Contour Crafting project is currently under development and is being worked on in collaboration with NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. More specifically, Contour Crafting is in its second phase of the NIAC program out of a two-year $500,000 study. NASA’s interests in the program lie in its potentials to also offer a means to build housing in space.

“Most of the ideas for buildings on other planets are based on taking stuff from earth and assembling stuff there,” said Khoshnevis in an interview. “Even taking one pound of material from here to the moon is about $100,000…it’s ridiculously expensive to think about building infrastructure and habitats over there.”

In not having to transport materials and in potentially even using locally sourced materials, Contour Crafting could help to effectively cut back on how much would need to be shipped to space. While there is no word on when the method could be used in space, its implementation on the moon would help scientists and NASA researchers to understand how humans could one day live on Mars.

According to Khoshnevis, he is optimistic that within the next two year an entry-level version of a Contour Crafting machine will be available on the market.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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kb wrote at 8/4/2016 1:36:46 AM:

It's interesting to read this the same day than the article about WinSun who apparently stole his idea!

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