Saturday, August 11, 2012

3D Printer Could Build a Custom House in 20 Hours



Yahoo News -- "An engineering professor, Behrokh Khoshnevis, at the University of Southern California, is really thinking big: He has figured out a way to build housing with a giant 3D printer. The apparatus, instead of being the size of your typical laser printer, would actually be somewhat bigger than the house it would build through a concrete layering system called Contour Crafting.

The professor explained the process in a speech at the TEDx conference, which you can watch above. (Start at 4:30 to see the animation demo.) In the video,  the professor demonstrates how the machine lays down a concrete foundation, puts up walls, even inserts wiring and plumbing, and eventually constructs an entire building, which Professor Khoshnevis says can be completed in less than a day. (All that's left to add are doors and windows.) Robotics could even be used to add details like tiles, says the professor."

MP: The 3D printing revolution has just begun. We can expect hundreds and probably thousands of more examples like this in the future, as this amazing, innovative, game-changing technology revolutionizes manufacturing, construction, and our entire world.

39 Comments:

At 8/12/2012 12:09 AM, Blogger J Scheppers said...

I like the Idea. I am skeptical that we are close. My example is in the professors presentation he indicated that it would be easy to have variation in the architecture, however his graphic did not take the super easy step of showing the variation.

Good idea. It has good chance of coming to implimentation with a huge amount of work.

 
At 8/12/2012 8:03 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Yet another silly TED conference...

Slums don't make criminals, criminals make criminals...

Dippy professor!

Regarding the construction of housing with a 3-D printer of suitable size, well why not?

It sounds doable yet it will spawn a different set of problems, unemployment...

This of course is not a new problem...

Still if this could work as well as Khoshnevis thinks it might then what to do with the displaced people will be something else to consider...

 
At 8/12/2012 8:51 AM, Blogger Krishnan said...

"Automatic construction? Will need fewer people? Oh no ... Cannot have that ... Technology is evil and must be stopped - look at how ATM's displaced people from their jobs - look at what happened to elevator operators - look at what happened to the many farmers who cannot farm anymore because is is more efficient

It is time for a Moratorium on Brains - a Moratorium on the Development of ANY new technology that will impact existing jobs (So what if new jobs are created - we simply do not know what will happen in the future - We must hold onto existing jobs"

(Heard from some politician running for office or in office today)

 
At 8/12/2012 11:07 AM, Blogger rjs said...

animation. how much would it cost to build such a comtraption?

 
At 8/12/2012 11:23 AM, Blogger TradetheLeaders said...

@ J scheppers @juandos

Are you too really arguing that technology creates unemployment?

The prof. gave the example of US agriculture to support the idea that technology advances don't destroy the human condition.

Also, there will be many jobs building, designing, programming installing, servicing etc. these machines. We currently spend a lot of resources, including human capital, doing mundane things like construction. These technologies will free up valuable human capital and allow it to be allocated elsewhere in the economy.

The only question is whether or not the construction and electrical lobbies (and others) will 'allow' this to happen and whether or not they will use their cronies to block progress.

 
At 8/12/2012 11:36 AM, Blogger David Every said...

The problem is the shell (and shell labor) is not the expensive part of housing (time or costs)-- it's the materials, interior and finish work.

And I have a hard time believing concrete is more environmentally friendly than sticks. (Even if it makes nice/sturdy houses).

So you might "improve" one of the quickest/easiest parts of building a house (the shell). But if it was economical to do robotic interior finish work, and modular wiring and plumbing, why wouldn't those already be taking off without the 3D printing of the shell? So sounds like he's elegantly fixing the wrong problem. (Putting the cart before the horse). Even though I think the idea is neat.

 
At 8/12/2012 11:37 AM, Blogger David Every said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 8/12/2012 12:22 PM, Blogger TradetheLeaders said...

@ David Every cars are not as environmentally friendly as horse carriages - i suppose that is an argument against automobile technology?

 
At 8/12/2012 1:21 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Are you too really arguing that technology creates unemployment?"...

Well TradetheLeaders you're kidding yourself if you think technology doesn't create unemployment but like all creative-destruction processes it also creates opportunities too...

Many if not most of the time these opportunities also entail new forms of employment...

You need to remember that we are coming up to the silly season (as Krishnan indicated in his comment) and we'll be hearing a lot more of this sort of inane rhetoric by clueless politicos in the near future...

 
At 8/12/2012 2:13 PM, Blogger bart said...

Cool concept, but I won't be holding my breath due to vested interests of unions, corporations and politicians.

 
At 8/12/2012 4:26 PM, Blogger Jason said...

I remember some talk a few years ago about putting up two rails that a 3D printer could roll along, printing houses for a neighborhood.

Of course, you'd have to clear a straight path for the printer on wheels and it'd have to be flat enough for the rails…

There was some interest from NASA for launching such a device to the moon or Mars for building basic structures…

 
At 8/12/2012 5:46 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Assuming you skip things, after you watch the animation, skip to 6:45 to see the actual device constructing a wall.

 
At 8/12/2012 5:51 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

}}}} It sounds doable yet it will spawn a different set of problems, unemployment...

This of course is not a new problem...

Still if this could work as well as Khoshnevis thinks it might then what to do with the displaced people will be something else to consider...


One thing to grasp is that we may well be headed to much more of a future like James P. Hogan's "Two Faces of Tomorrow" than many realize.

The novel itself has certain natural behavioral issues it somewhat glosses over, but does point out some thoughtful considerations when definably mechanically routine tasks become fully roboticized.

Hogan suggests that the era of the craftsman has only been on a suspension, rather than disappeared. Once robots free us up from boring labor, it does provide us with a chance to actually focus our entire native potential on creative action.

Yeah, there's a lot of people alive right now who don't have any such capacity. I believe that's an artifact of our edumacashunal process much more so than our basic human natures.

 
At 8/12/2012 5:52 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> animation. how much would it cost to build such a comtraption?

LOL, clearly, you did not watch the video... as I noted above, they show an at least rudimentary one performing the process @ 6:45

 
At 8/12/2012 5:58 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>>> But if it was economical to do robotic interior finish work, and modular wiring and plumbing, why wouldn't those already be taking off without the 3D printing of the shell?

David, clearly you don't grasp how building construction works. Modularized housing construction would have taken off about 20-25 years ago if it weren't for the fact that US building codes don't allow for any such thing. There's no reason walls could not be built -- even 90% FINISHED -- in a factory-floor scenario right now, for assembly on-site by experienced "installers" needing far less expertise than a typical construction crew.

But US Codes would not allow such a building to pass inspection.

I predict that some other nation with less vested interest in the existing construction status quo will act as a development test bed for these techs...

 
At 8/12/2012 6:45 PM, Blogger hancke said...

Why the second guessing of this technical achievement? We just landed a rover on Mars that is now sending photos and video 48 million miles througb space. Why not a robotic device extruding cellular concrete to build walls?

 
At 8/12/2012 6:51 PM, Blogger J Scheppers said...

@ Tradetheleader,

I went back and looked. I don't think I in anyway said that it would cost jobs. My reference to a huge amount of work is to bring the concept to market. What about the foundations? What about architectural treatments? What about reliability and access to electrical circuits after construction. What about change orders?

I think the professor is correct that automation could improve building process, but full automation will take much effort.

 
At 8/12/2012 8:12 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Should not take but fifty years to get it past the building codes and the HOAs.

 
At 8/12/2012 8:15 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

It takes what, two days to put to getehr a modular home in a factory, and another day to assemble it on site?

And as juandos points out, the modular home factory actually has workers.

 
At 8/12/2012 8:16 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Remember when they used to charge you EXTRA if you wanted to use a teller?

Now they charge you to use the ATM, and the charge is MORE than the teller fee was.

 
At 8/12/2012 8:20 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

The prof. gave the example of US agriculture to support the idea that technology advances don't destroy the human condition.

==================================

In the short term. Just give it time. Nuclear weapons saved mislslions of lives by avoiding the invasion of Japan, but the story may not be finished yet.

Nuclear power probably saved a lot of coal miners, but that story may not be finished yet either.

 
At 8/12/2012 8:22 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

cars are not as environmentally friendly as horse carriages

=================================

Cars were initially hailed as a huge environmental improvement over cities full of "mud" the euphemism for horsse shit.

But, the entire story has not been written yet.

 
At 8/12/2012 8:24 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

spend a lot of resources, including human capital, doing mundane things like construction.

===============================

You think construction is mundane? Ever actually build a house, a boat, or an airplane?

 
At 8/12/2012 8:28 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

And I have a hard time believing concrete is more environmentally friendly than sticks. (Even if it makes nice/sturdy houses).

==================================
Concrete and glass are among the most energy consuming products on the planet.

With the proper technology and a lot of glue, one can make a wooden house that is as strong as steel. You can build a forty foot boat that weighs a fraction of what a forty foot house weighs, and drop it six or seven feet, every 90 seconds for weeks on end.

Try that with a house.

 
At 8/12/2012 8:31 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Once robots free us up from boring labor, it does provide us with a chance to actually focus our entire native potential on creative action.


==================================
well yes, but creative action depends, usually, on some need. If robots are supplying all our "needs" what then?

Won't "creativity" have lost much of its meaning?

Whatever is left will be what, art?

 
At 8/12/2012 8:33 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

What about foundations?

What about building permits? the last time I got a building permit, it took 18 MONTHS!

 
At 8/12/2012 8:41 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

I'll bet that custom house won't have custom walnut cabinets, or granite countertops.

 
At 8/13/2012 5:54 AM, Blogger Rick Parker said...

I've been a builder for 40 years and during that time all sorts of technology has come along that was going to make building faster and cheaper.
Roof trusses use less material and less experienced labor. Laminated veneer lumber uses less material and produces better boards so there is less waste. Plywoods now come waterproofed, concrete walls come in assemblies, whole houses are made in factories and delivered to the job site. But while technology was racing ahead so were prices so in the end all the time and material saving cost just as much or more as what it replaced.
My prediction for 3-D printed walls is more of the same. It will happen in large developments but it will be so much more expensive that there won't be any real advantage.

 
At 8/13/2012 12:26 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Rick Parker

"But while technology was racing ahead so were prices so in the end all the time and material saving cost just as much or more as what it replaced. "

If that were true why would any builder adopt the newer technology? For example, assuming you use roof trusses, if they don't reduce your costs, why do you use them?

What about nail guns? Don't you save money by using them?

Inflation over the years has constantly reduced the value of our dollars, but wouldn't you say a lot more building happens now, per worker than 40 years ago?

 
At 8/13/2012 4:48 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Roof trusses may reduce your cost, but they may also result in an inferior product (loss of usable attic space) resulting in lower value.

It is a race to the bottom.

 
At 8/13/2012 8:37 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Roof trusses may reduce your cost, but they may also result in an inferior product (loss of usable attic space) resulting in lower value.

It is a race to the bottom.
"

You have no idea what you're talking about.

 
At 8/13/2012 9:15 PM, Blogger Rick Parker said...

Ron

Yes, roof trusses save money on labor as do nail guns but they cost more than framing lumber so the roof assembly cost the same and they do result in an inferior product. No usable attic space, hard to insulate, impossible to install a vapor barrier and much less cosmetically pleasing on the outside. If a truss component breaks the entire truss has to be replaced. Try that in a finished home.
What they do is save time so the house can be finished faster.

Don't misunderstand my position, I love construction technology and use new products and methods as much as possible.

The point is that a crew of masons can lay up a small block house in day, a fairly large one in a week. A pre-stressed concrete house can be put up in a day but will cost more then the block house.

 
At 8/13/2012 9:32 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

I know what an attic looks like with roof trusses vs rafters. How many have you built? Sure, you can get complex trusses that preserve the attic space, but they cost more. Also rafters often take heavy equipment to install.

You have no idea whether I know what I am talking about.

 
At 8/13/2012 9:41 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

When I worked in a Bayard we built a fleet of ferrocement work boats. 40 FT. long by about 14 ft beam. We made a plywood mold and stapled multiple layers of chicken wire to the mold. Then it was plastered over with cement, the hull being about 3/8 inch thick.

Then we turned them over and ripped the mold out and ground off the staples. In 1970 we could build a 40 ft hull for $800.

Similar systems are used today for prefabricated concrete foundations. The main obstacle is building codes.

 
At 8/13/2012 9:44 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 8/13/2012 10:30 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Rick Parker

Thanks for your response. Obviously your expertise is greater than mine, and I may be missing something, but trusses like this and like this appear to provide a great deal of usable attic space.

I realize those 2 examples have pretty steep pitches, and I don't know what other differences that might make.

I will defer to your expertise on the vapor barrier and insulation issues.

My previous point was that labor saving devices and technology over the years have made building construction faster and cheaper or it wouldn't be adopted.

 
At 8/13/2012 10:35 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"You have no idea whether I know what I am talking about."

Based on my previous experience with your comments, My chances of being correct are pretty good when I say "You have no idea what you're talking about."

 
At 8/13/2012 10:39 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"When I worked in a Bayard..."

What is a Bayard?

 
At 8/14/2012 2:12 PM, Blogger Rick Parker said...

Ron,

Yes, those are designed for a second floor or usable attic but aren't used much due to cost and size. Here in south Florida most roofs are trussed and typically about a 5/12 pitch. These trusses are not designed for any load on the bottom chord although of course everyone crams the area around their scuttle hole full of small stuff.

 

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