According to scientific forecasts, there will be 11 billion people living on Earth by the year 2100. That’s a big population boom in a relatively short period of time, and one of the concerns that arises is how we’re going to house all of those people. Half of the world’s population currently lives in cities, and by 2050 it will be closer to 75 percent. The construction industry is going to have to build fast in order to accommodate our swelling population, and conventional construction methods may not be up to the challenge.
Luckily, forward-thinking individuals like Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis exist. Dr. Khoshnevis is the creator of Contour Crafting, one of the first methods of large-scale 3D printing. The technique involves the use of large but lightweight robotic 3D printers capable of rapidly putting down layers of building material to create entire buildings in a matter of days or even hours, directly at the construction site.
Two years ago in an interview, Dr. Khoshnevis predicted that 3D printed homes would be widespread within five years, and 3D printed high-rises within ten years. He also said that his Contour Crafting machines would be commercially available within a couple of years, and it looks as if they’re right on schedule, as the Contour Crafting Corporation is now gearing up for series production of the robotic 3D printers.
The production is happening with help from an investment from Doka Ventures, which is taking a 30 percent state in the company. Dr. Khoshnevis, who developed the Contour Crafting technique at the University of Southern California, will remain the majority shareholder, President and CEO, while Doka Ventures has appointed people to the roles of CFO and Chair of the Board of Directors.
“Very soon, we’ll have the first series-ready deployable robotic 3D construction printer,” said Dr. Khoshnevis.
The first generation of the Contour Crafting 3D printers will have a reach of 24 to 40 feet, depending on the model, and a user-selectable length that could be much larger. They are also very lightweight for construction machines, at less than 800 pounds. According to Dr. Khoshnevis, they’re also very simple to take apart and put back together; several of them can fit into an ordinary truck or storage container. The build can proceed with only one or two certified operators there to monitor it.
The robotic 3D printers will be built in a 33,600-square-foot facility in El Segundo.
“The first orders are already in the books,” said Werner H. Bittner, newly appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of Contour Crafting Corporation.
Future customers include real estate developers and construction companies, and the first 3D printers are scheduled for delivery at the beginning of 2018. Contour Crafting Corporation also plans to provide on-site building construction as a service.
In addition to constructing sturdy, quality homes at a rapid pace, Dr. Khoshnevis also envisions the technology being used to provide quick disaster relief, and even to build structures on the moon and Mars. Since 1996, he has held multiple global patents related to all aspects of construction 3D printing, and he’s also researched in-situ construction techniques that could be used to build in space. Contour Crafting won the grand prize in NASA’s “Create the Future” competition in 2014, and in 2016 Dr. Khoshnevis won another NASA challenge, the In-Situ Materials Challenge, for his new Selective Separation Sintering technique. Contour Crafting Corporation is also exploring SSS applications for the construction industry and beyond. Discuss in the Contour Crafting forum at 3DPB.com.