Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Contour Crafting: A Housing Solution or the Death of Design?
In today’s world, machines have become tools that simplify many processes; cars, clothing, furniture, and countless other goods are manufactured largely by machine rather than manual labor. Robotics have made thousands of goods we buy everyday cheaper, faster, and more convenient, at the same time robotics have put people out of jobs and in many cases diminished product design to a dull and repetitive process. Now, imagine that one could press print and in 24 hours or less, and entire 2000 sqft house would appear. Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis at the University of Southern California has created what he calls a contour crafting machine which he claims will do just that. Khoshnevis is in the process of developing a printer of sorts which can print buildings. He hopes that such machines in the future will be able to build houses, offices, schools and even hospitals. Khoshnevis claims that the first printers will be available for commercial purchase around 2008. These machines use a specially developed concrete mixture to lay down layers of concrete a few inches thick. The Contour Crafter will also be able to install electrical lines and plumbing; the crafter will even be able to do work as specific as printing wallpaper into place. The only thing left to do by manual labor will be installing windows, doors, and other fixtures. Khoshnevis speculates that in twenty years from now the contour crafter will replace most manual labor in the construction industry. The contour crafter is expected to reduce construction costs of a house by about 75% and the construction time to just one day. More detailed information including videos, media reports and a link to the Contour Crafting blog is available at the Contour Crafting website.