Contour Crafting 3D Prints 2500 Square Foot Home in 20 Hours

contour crafting design

This is precisely what construction will look like with contour crafting in the near future.

Contour crafting is the name of a recent breakthrough in the engineering world combining construction and 3D printing technology. The end result is a robot that can 3D print homes in less than a day. The innovator behind contour crafting is Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and the Director of Manufacturing Engineering Graduate Program at the University of Southern California (USC).

At a TEDx speech in 2012 Khoshnevis presented the idea of contour crafting to an audience. He begins by reminding everyone of Maslow’s basic human needs, and points out that food and shelter are the foundations of our lives. Despite shelter being a basic human need, billions of people around the world live in slums, be it in underpopulated or overpopulated regions. Industries of every type, including agriculture, pharmaceuticals, weaponry, automotive, etc. implement a fleet of fully automated robotics to manufacture their products. Industries of every type, except the construction industry.

Related Article: 3D Printing: The Next Revolution in Creativity

contour crafting precision

Precision is the name of the game with contour crafting.

Despite modern day construction being slow, labor intensive, and inefficient, no serious technological revolution has ever occurred in the industry. Contour crafting has enough momentum and potential to change that once and for all.

Remember that lovely time in 2008 when the whole economy crashed and no one was laughing but the banks? What was the main cause of the crash again? That’s right, subprime mortgage loans; the devil himself. People couldn’t afford a home, so banks loaned these people exorbitant amounts of money, an amount they could never feasibly pay back. We know the rest of the story, but let’s revisit the beginning: People couldn’t afford a home. So many people around the world cannot afford one of the most basic human needs: a shelter. No wonder so many people end up renting property their entire lives. And those are the lucky ones. With the number of homeless people worldwide at 100 million in 2005, the world yearns for a construction revolution.

According to Khoshnevis, modern day construction is dangerous, wasteful, and due to the management process, highly corruptible. All of these factors contribute to inefficiency and a higher costs for homeowners and society as a whole. Contour crafting on the other hand cuts out the waste, danger, and human error by using only a CAD program and sophisticated robot to build a customized structure in less than 24 hours.

Related Article: The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us: The Merging of Humans with Technology

It’s obvious that an automated, robotic 3D printing system will make operations safer, quicker, and cheaper, but what is not obvious is the level of precision and customizable designs involved in contour crafting. Having direct access over the mind of the builder (the contour crafting robot) allows designers to delve into whole new avenues of creative architecture while still retaining optimal structural integrity.

contour crafting moon

Contour crafting on the moon is set in lunar stone.

Khoshnevis shows examples of houses featuring curved walls and exotic geometries with enough reinforcement to withstand high intensity earthquakes in Jordan. Need some extra support? It’s easy for a contour crafting robot to line the walls and foundation of the house with a steel mesh. This type of design would cost thousands more with traditional construction methods.

Printing these exotic designs will cost exactly the same as printing a traditional rectangular box shape home since it’s just a matter of changing the initial design. The building method, speed, and builder are always the same. Building costs will depend solely upon the material and size of the desired structure, not the design. Who knows, maybe contour crafting will one day become a new weekend expenditure. “We’ve had this house all week, let’s design and print a new one.”

Related Article: Dome Homes: Virtually Indestructible

Contour crafting builds structures in layers. The material the printers currently use is a concrete. This concrete is sprayed out of a nozzle in a desired pattern and overall shape. As the printer autonomously lays down the foundation and frame of the house, it simultaneously installs all of the plumbing, electricity, and structural reinforcements. Eventually contour crafting will also be able to handle tiling, carpeting, and even painting too. Literally every square inch of a finished house is accounted for. Check out the building process in the video below. It reminds me so much of building a house in the Sims computer game.

What’s more, due to the precision of the contour crafting printer the structural integrity of the concrete has a strength measured at 10,000 psi, compared to 3,000 psi in traditional concrete structures.

There is no reason the printers cannot use more sustainable materials like cob or adobe as well.  After all, NASA has funded a project that will implement contour crafting printers on the moon and Mars. 90% of the materials used in the lunar printer will be gathered from the moon itself with only 10% of construction materials coming from Earth.

We print houses now. Welcome to the future.




Earthquake Lights: The Mystery has Been Solved


Earthquake lights

Earthquake lights remind me that everything will always be calm and okay…

‘Earthquake lights,’ or earthquake luminosity, is the name of a phenomenon that occurs just before, during, or right after an earthquake. Earthquake lights are lights that appear from seemingly nowhere, and disappear just as mysteriously. They come in many colors and forms. People have reported seeing them for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until now that scientists believe they may finally understand why strange lights are seen during an earthquake.

A report from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory in 1975 about the Kalapana earthquake on the Big Island of Hawaii described the earthquake lights that were seen during and immediately after the quake. The report stated that,

During and immediately after the main shock, ‘earthquake lights’ of white to bluish flashes or glows lasting several seconds were reported by a number of observers… The lights are believed to be results of earthquake-induced distortions of the atmosphere.

An earthquake-induced distortion of the atmosphere is scientific jargon for “we have no idea.”

Related Article: Science Says “Smart People Are Idiots”

earthquake lights orbs

Aliens have the inalienable right to hang out near earthquake sites.

Earthquake lights can last for hours at a time and have been spotted many miles away from the epicenter of earthquakes. They are certainly strange, but researchers believe that a new study is the most likely hypothesis for why and how earthquake lights form.

The study, published in Seismological Research Letters, represents a whole new approach to understanding earthquake lights. The study explains that earthquake lights are a phenomenon that have been known about for hundreds of years, explaining that,

With the beginning of seismology as a science in the 19th century, many scholars devoted time to reporting luminosities associated with earthquake activity. To name a few, the Irish engineer Robert Mallet, the “founder of seismology”, published a five part catalog entitled “On the Facts of Earthquake Phenomena”… in which numerous reports on earthquake luminosities can be found. His catalog, first presented to the British Association of Science, covers the years 1606 B.C. to 1842 A.D.. Ignazio Galli, an Italian priest who graduated in Natural Sciences, published in the early 1900s a catalog of 148 seismic events associated with different types of luminosities. His catalog covers the years 89 B.C. to 1910 A.D.

Looks like both religion and science have been aware of earthquake lights for some time. The study goes on to explain the past theories for earthquake lights. There are two major past theories, and another fringe theory:

Old Theory 1: Earthquake lights are the result of intense electric fields which cause atmospheric disturbances. These fields are created through piezoelectricity, a charge that accumulates in crystals undergoing stress. Because there are a great deal of rocks in the earth that contain quartz crystal, this theory is plausible. Thrown violently about by tectonic plates, the quartz crystals release piezoelectricity and could be creating a luminescent stir in the atmosphere.

Old Theory 2: Earthquake lights are caused by local disturbances in Earth’s magnetic field within the ionosphere. These disturbances are caused by tectonic stress. A glow can be seen as the magnetic field and particles in the ionosphere recombine and reform. This theory is the least likely of the two because the described effects on the ionosphere have not been notably observed.

Related Article: Pooping Dogs Perceive Earth’s Magnetic Field

Old Theory 3: Earthquake lights are created using government technology under the authority of a project called the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP. HAARP’s aim is to better understand the ionosphere and how it can be manipulated and used to provide better communication and surveillance for civilian and military use. Many believe that HAARP is used to create natural disasters by disrupting Earth’s magnetic field. They also think it could be a mind control device. This theory is the most likely to remain a theory for a very long time.

earthquake lights haarp

This is where Big Brother makes weather for the proles.

New Theory: Earthquake lights are caused by the release of negatively-charged oxygen atoms created through high intensity stress. These atoms slip through cracks in the earth and reach the atmosphere even before an earthquake can be felt. Dense groups of these atoms ionize pockets of air, creating a plasma that emits light.

The new theory on earthquake lights is the most likely to be true as it explains why the lights can be seen for up to days before the earthquake begins. Tectonic stress gradually builds up over an extended period of time, and according to the theory, so do the lights.

Despite earthquake lights occurring 85% of the time at earthquake sites that account for only 5% of all earthquakes, researchers are hopeful that the lights might one day be used as an early warning system.




Dogs Can Predict Earthquakes by Hearing Them


Dogs and other animals have long been used as a reliable way to predict the occurrences of earthquakes.  Dogs, insects, snakes, and other species display strange behavior and anxiety days before earthquakes happen. Dogs have even successfully warned rescue teams in the event of an impending avalanche, saving lives numerous times.  In China and Japan, it isn’t just speculation, animals are considered an integral part of their earthquake warning system.

A canine’s ability to seemingly see into the future have lead many people to believe that they contain some form of ESP, or are possibly the evolutionary descendants of psychics from Mars.  For the first time, researchers like Stanley Coren believe they have found the source of dogs’ power; their ears.

Through a series of tests with dogs with different types of ears and ages, it seems very likely that dogs are able to hear the high frequency movements of rock deep underground that precede minor and major earthquakes.

Listen to your pets people. They may not be psychic, or from Mars, but they don’t destroy their hearing with Slayer concerts either.