Contour Crafting made headlines in 2014 when the pioneer of the 3D printing method, Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis of USC, was crowned the winner of NASA’s ‘Create The Future’ competition.
The construction method leverages the power of additive manufacturing to build homes, and Dr.Khoshnevis has insisted it can do so in less than 24 hours. Contour crafting essentially uses a robotic device to automate the construction of large structures such as homes. The 3D printing device builds walls layer-by-layer using the process of extrusion. The walls are smoothed as they are built, thanks to a robotic trowel.
At the time of winning the prize, contour crafting was in the funding phase of development. Dr.Khoshnevis has since received the requisite funds to release an entry-level machine on the market. He has announced that he plans to release his first device within the next two years.
On-demand housing of this nature would not only be exceptionally useful for its speed — it would also offer cost advantages over traditional construction methods. Firstly, the use of contour crafting obviates the need for companies to pay human construction workers. The second cost benefit associated with this technology is that materials for constructing homes would be prepared on-site. This is contrary to old-school methods that require the transportation of materials to construction sites.
With no end to the global housing crisis in sight, the implementation of this 3D printing application could provide relief to millions of people around the world. Furthermore, a major natural disaster often results in scores of people being left without a roof over their heads. Thanks to the ingenuity of Dr. Khoshnevis, these people could be put back in homes in less than a day.
The product briefing for contour crafting’s entry into the 2014 ‘Create The Future’ stated that “Contour crafting is a major innovation that automates the construction of whole structures…the result would be a revolution in the construction industry”. Words such as ‘revolution’ are often misleadingly used by innovators to promote their products. In the case of contour crafting, describing it as a revolution is wholly justified.