December 07, 2012      

A California scientist’s experiments have led to developing a robot that can read an architect’s computer aided design (CAD) drawings and whip up a full-sized house using 3D printing technology.

Behrokh Khoshnevis, a University of Southern California professor of industrial and systems engineering, says the robot can build a complete house in a single-day – with little assistance from human builders.

Khoshnevis is focusing on residential applications, but also has the attention of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for his out-of-this-world home building research. NASA is looking into systems than can be used for extraterrestrial habitats, perhaps a lunar base.

Khoshnevis also sees early adoption for his “Contour Crafting (CC)” robots in building fast, post-disaster housing, military housing, low-cost inner city and developing nations’ infill housing, rather than traditional mass-produced homes.

extruder nozzle

“Robots of this kind could potentially dramatically reduce the time and money needed to build quality homes, including plumbing, electrical and HVAC conduits,” said Robert Federowicz, CEO of Quantum International Corp. a publicly traded robotics innovation company.

“These machines can theoretically work around the clock, needing only a constant supply of power and semi-liquid concrete. It?s exactly the kind of robotics innovation that we?re interested in helping to commercialize on a global scale,” Federowicz.

The CC robot, a computer-controlled crane or gantry, which looks like scaffolding with nozzles, loads up on semi-liquid concrete and extrudes it in layers as surfaces, wall structures and domed roofs, building the home from the ground up.

“Houses Of The Future”

In addition to the potential for architecural departure from the standard cookie-cutter, rectilinear design of new homes, the 20 to 25 percent savings on financing, 25 to 30 percent savings in materials and 45 to 55 percent savings in labor make CC attractive, Khoshnevis reports in “Houses Of The Future – Construction By Contour Crafting Building Houses For Everyone” (See attached PDF)

Building speed reduces financing costs, the process reportedly leaves zero waste and it will replace muscle power with brain power – women and older workers can find job opportunities in CC construction, Khoshnevis reports.

“This revolutionary technology uses modern robotics in combination with a construction tool used since ancient times – the trowel – to build a custom-designed house in a few hours.

“A full implementation of the technology will have the potential to significantly improve the urban housing infrastructure in Southern California, the entire nation, and the world, by providing much higher quality construction at much lower cost,” he added.