Contour crafting is a building printing technology being researched by Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute (in the Viterbi School of Engineering) that uses a computer-controlled crane or gantry to build edifices rapidly and efficiently with substantially less manual labor. It was originally conceived as a method to construct molds for industrial parts. Khoshnevis decided to adapt the technology for rapid home construction as a way to rebuild after natural disasters, like the devastating earthquakes that have plagued his native Iran.
Using a quick-setting, concrete-like material, contour crafting forms the house's walls layer by layer until topped off by floors and ceilings set in place by the crane. The notional concept calls for the insertion of structural components, plumbing, wiring, utilities, and even consumer devices like audiovisual systems as the layers are built.
In 2010, Khoshnevis claimed that his system could build a complete home in a single day, and its electrically powered crane would produce very little construction material waste. The Science Channel's Discoveries This Week program in 2005 reported that, given 3–7 tons of material waste and the exhaust fumes from construction vehicles during standard home construction, contour crafting could significantly reduce environmental impact.[dated info]
Khoshnevis stated in 2010 that NASA was evaluating Contour Crafting for its application in the construction of bases on Mars and the Moon. After three years, in 2013, NASA funded a small study at the University of Southern California to further develop the Contour Crafting 3D printing technique. Potential applications of this technology include constructing lunar structures of a material that could be built of 90-percent lunar material with only ten percent of the material transported from Earth.
- "Annenberg Foundation Puts Robotic Disaster Rebuilding Technology on Fast Track". University of Souther California School of Engineering. November 14, 2005. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- "Caterpillar Inc. Funds Viterbi 'Print-a-House' Construction Technology". USC – Viterbi School of Engineering. August 28, 2008. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- "Home, Sweet Home". University of Southern California. March 24, 2004. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- "House-Bot". The Science Channel. December 30, 2005.
- "Colloquium with Behrokh Khoshnevis". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
- "NASA’s plan to build homes on the Moon: Space agency backs 3D print technology which could build base". TechFlesh. 2014-01-15. Retrieved 2014-01-16.