Will 3D Printers Replace Homebuilders?
Shelter is essential to human survival. University of Southern California engineering professor Behrokh Khoshnevis believes, however, that our methods of construction are antiquated. He argues that the building industry is slow, labor intensive, hazardous, wasteful, and expensive.
Computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing are a way of harnessing technology to build housing quickly, at a lower cost, and with unparalleled design flexibility. Rather than forcing workers out of the field, Khoshnevis says, the adoption of this new approach could actually create jobs, especially for older workers who are no longer able to work in construction.
An approach called “Contour Crafting” represents a new direction for residential construction. It’s essentially a way of ramping up 3D printing to the scale of a two-story house and using robotics and computer programming to build cheaper, stronger houses in virtually any design. This technique has the potential to build a 2500-sq.-ft. house in less than 24 hours at a lower cost than conventional construction and with less risk to workers.
Computer-guided nozzles are capable of quickly creating high-strength walls with fast-drying concrete.
A robotic “house printer” is a chance to rethink how our cities are created. As the world’s population continues to surge toward 9 billion or more by the middle of the century, more people will flock to megacities. They and others will need new places to live. Working hand-in-hand with construction workers, these devices have the potential to significantly speed up the building process while opening the door to “extraordinary structures never seen before.” For a hint of where this could lead, read about efforts to create the Landscape House.