3d printed house Photo: ContourCrafting

University of Southern California engineering professor Behrokh Khoshnevis says the construction industry is slow, inefficient, dangerous, unkind to the environment, costly and prone to corruption.

His solution? Let machines take over.

In a TED Talk presentation delivered earlier this year, Khoshnevis explains that 3D printers are capable of building a 2,500-square-foot building in just 20 hours for a fraction of conventional construction costs.

The layer-by-layer building process, known as Contour Crafting, would handle everything from laying down a concrete foundation to the installation of electrical and plumbing systems. Khoshnevis says machines could also handle tasks like tiling and painting. The only part of the process that would require a human touch would be the addition of windows and doors.

Khoshnevis explains that 3D printing technology is also capable of building architectural structures that are unique in form at no additional cost. He says Contour Crafting can be used to build entire neighborhoods to house people living in abject poverty, that are not only cost-effective, but aesthetically appealing as well.

The major concern, of course, is the number of people who would lose their job if the construction industry was put into the cold, mechanical hands of robots. But Khoshnevis says 3D printing would create new jobs in the sector.

“Currently women and the elderly do not have much opportunity to work in the construction industry. But with new technologies like Contour Crafting, those groups of people would be able to be employed in the more creative activities of construction,” Khoshnevis says.

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