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.




AI Prescribes Better Treatment than Doctors


As America stares down the needle of an empty syringe called Healthcare, we are realizing with more tangible worry everyday that something must be done quickly to solve our medical woes. President Obama has offered solutions such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but we are all well aware now of the cracks in the already unsteady foundation of Obamacare. It doesn’t seem like any viable solution is available, so maybe the answer is to get creative, or even artificial.

In the spirit of bringing the singularity even closer to fruition, a study has found that artificial intelligence may be the answer to the issue at the forefront of political and social debate. Artificial intelligence (AI), aka the intelligence that will one day rule over us with the sweet aroma of logic and rationality (I choose to welcome our robotic overlords), has a history of impressing its human creators, even if one of the most powerful AIs in the world, IBM’s Watson, has a potty mouth.

Don’t let the word ‘artificial’ fool you: AI is smart, so smart that it has recently been shown to outperform doctors at their very job description; prescribing proper treatments. Using a combination of AI designs, namely Markov Decision Processes and Dynamic Decision Networks, researchers Casey Bennett and Kris Hauser from the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing have revealed that AI can consistently prescribe better treatment than doctors and dramatically save on healthcare costs.

The study considered 6700 patients, and randomly chose 500 from the group.  After comparing the results of AI doctors and human doctors, the researchers found that the AI improved patient outcomes by close to 50%, while reducing overall required healthcare costs from an average of $497 to $189, a difference of more than 50%.  We are talking about a 50% improvement in care, and a 50% reduction in costs; these are revolutionary results.

The specific AI that the researchers used in their study was able to think like a doctor.

By using a new framework that employs sequential decision-making, the previous single-decision research can be expanded into models that simulate numerous alternative treatment paths out into the future; maintain beliefs about patient health status over time even when measurements are unavailable or uncertain; and continually plan/re-plan as new information becomes available.

watson MD

The AI can think exactly like a doctor, the difference being that it can do it faster, and can review a patient’s entire history in the blink of an eye. It can also instantaneously factor in new information and compare that information with known and potentially unknown variables. The AI is faster, smarter, has a better memory, costs less, and doesn’t ever yell at its wife.  Moreover, while doctors must spend decades in school specializing in a specific field, AI is a highly trained doctor from birth, and does not require specialization to function optimally in all fields. Keep in mind, if new, relevant data becomes available, all it takes is a momentary upload and the AI has already integrated the new information into every aspect of its being.

Most medical decision made by doctors are based on individual, experience based-approaches, including using intuition. The researchers suggest that in the majority of cases, modeling, rather than case-by-case decision making, is a better solution in every way. The researchers not that:

Modeling lets us see more possibilities out to a further point, which is something that is hard for a doctor to do. They just don’t have all of that information available to them.


AI has a wealth of resources and computation speed at its disposal.  The researchers believe that

using the growing availability of electronic health records, health information exchanges, large public biomedical databases and machine learning algorithms…the approach could serve as the basis for personalized treatment through integration of diverse, large-scale data passed along to clinicians at the time of decision-making for each patient.

Keep in mind that the researchers are not insinuating a total removal of humans from medical professions, rather

even with the development of new AI techniques that can approximate or even surpass human decision-making performance, we believe that the most effective long-term path could be combining artificial intelligence with human clinicians. Let humans do what they do well, and let machines do what they do well. In the end, we may maximize the potential of both.

We are talking about the seamless and lightning fast integration of all medical knowledge and inquiry around the globe.  Instead of being treated by a single doctor, wouldn’t you rather be treated by the collective knowledge and understanding of every doctor that has ever existed?

If you are interested in additional reading regarding AI being used in healthcare, IBM has done extensive research into the matter using Watson.  Using AI like Watson to improve healthcare is becoming an exponentially growing potential.


Wondergressive: ObamaCare and the 49-Employee Company

Wondergressive: The Singularity is Nigh Upon Us

Fortune: Teaching IBM’s Watson the Meaning of OMG

Markov Decision Processes

Dynamic Decision Networks

Indiana University: Can Computers Save Healthcare? 

IBM: Watson and Healthcare