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August 15, 2012

Printed Buildings Update in a TED talk

We have had frequent coverage of contour crafting aka printing buildings using a big inkjet printer with cement as the ink

There is a TEDx talk from a fellow named Behrokh Khoshnevis, who is a professor of engineering at USC, where he directs something called the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies. CRAFT has stated as its grand challenge “building a custom-designed house in a day while drastically reducing the costs, injuries, waste and environmental impact associated with traditional construction techniques.” The applications of such rapid-fire housing are endless: affordable housing for the poor; “extraterrestrial buildings constructed from in situ materials”; emergency FEMA-style housing, and the like.



Contour crafting looks interesting but it is developing far more slowly than China's factory mass produced skyscraper system (being developed by Broad Group of China. Still it is good to see progress on this method as well.



“The building is built layer by layer,” he says, adding that “in the process lots of things can be done including automatic reinforcement, automatic plumbing...” In other words, you get a full house, not some sort of ramshackle Potemkin village-style façade.

“In the end the whole building can be ready in an unprecedented time. We anticipate that an average house...can be built in about 20 hours, custom-designed.” A house in a day? That’s pretty disruptive.

“The walls do not necessarily have to be rectilinear... you can execute very exotic beautiful architectural features, without incurring extra costs.” Translation: we can all have our own angular or undulating Taliesen Wests and Bilbao Museums, on a smaller scale.

He goes on to show the device actually pumping out a concrete wall with 10,000 PSI strength--more than a threefold factor above the average 3,000 PSI strength found in most concrete structures. He includes illustrations showing how a multi-nozzle machine can build wide structures, and how a machine can scale a building to make tall ones. And he mentions support he’s been receiving from NASA, which is interested in developing the tech to build landing pads, roads, hangars, support walls, and the like on the moon or elsewhere.

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