3D Printer Can Build You A House In 20 Hours: Welcome To The Future

We've seen 3D printers used for everything from iPhone cases to makeshift weapons, but if you think bigger, what can these new printers really be used for? Could you really make your own house with a 3D printer in less than 20 hours? Turns out you can, and the technology is now set to be used by NASA for a future Moon colony.

The man behind this ambitious housing project is Professor Behrock Khoshnevis, and he's disgusted that in the 21st century, the world is still ridden with poverty-stricken slums characterised by make-shift corrugated iron shacks. He wanted to find a way to improve the basic concept of house construction so that it was accessible to everyone, because with better shelter comes a more civilised society.

To build a house right now, you're looking at a slow, labour-intensive, dangerous process that's almost always over-budget. Professor Khoshnevis said that housing construction is one of the only industries that still does things manually, unlike the motoring or technology industries for example that use automated production methods to complete routine construction tasks.

So how do you fix a slow, expensive housing concept that has been set in stone for the last few centuries so that everyone around the world can get access to it? That's easy, Professor Khoshnevis says. You use 3D printing.

Khoshnevis is heavily involved in computer-aided design (CAD), robotics and rapid prototyping with the University of Southern California, and he's using that experience to scale up 3D printing so that it can be used in housing construction.

"I name this process Contour Crafting, which is essentially a way of streamlining the process by benefiting from the experience we have gained in the domain of [automated and technology-assisted] manufacturing," he told TEDxOjai attendees earlier this year.

Khoshnevis wants to build entire neighbourhoods with Contour Crafting, and he claims it can be done at a fraction of the cost in a smaller block of time.

As far as expenses go, the materials for the 3D printed house are projected to cost 25 per cent less than traditional houses and labour costs can be cut in half. In terms of timing from start to finish, Khoshnevis said that "we anticipate that an average house, like 2500 square foot house, can be built in about 20 hours from a custom design".

Here's how it works. A CAD design is sent to a large-scale 3D printer that is mounted to a block of land. The printer lays out the concrete-like foundation of the home through a nozzle that can move anywhere on the property. Like any 3D print-out, the house is made layer-by-layer and reinforced with various materials -- like electrical, plumbing and communication infrastructure -- as the build progresses.

The concrete used is a mixture of concrete and fibre polymers, meaning that it is more than three times stronger than traditional concrete used in today's houses. The concrete that goes into your house right now can withstand roughly 3000 pounds per square inch of pressure, while the new printed concrete can withstand around 10,000 pounds per square inch.

The best thing about the construction process, Khoshnevis added, is that it can print out any house design you like. Curved walls? No problem. Water feature in your front yard? Can do. Custom tile design and a few feature walls? Simple, thanks to the addition of laser jet printer nozzles attached to the printing array.

As if that's not impressive enough, Professor Khoshnevis' concept is currently being supported by NASA so that the space agency can one day be used to build a colony on the Moon. You read it right, the Moon.

This is the future I want to live in. One where I can print out my own house in less than a day, for half the cost, using the same technology NASA is using on the moon. I want to go to there. [TEDxOjai via Reddit]


    I'd sooooooooooooooo live on the moon, even for just one year.... Imagine the postage though... Please ship it to 1A Moonrock Avenue, Moontown 1522, Darkside, The Moon.

      Moonopolis is clearly a better moon city than Moontown, but hey, it's your Moonbucks.

        "The moon belongs to America, and anxiously awaits the arrival of our astro-men. Will YOU be among them?"

        Firstly: lol

        Secondly: The Moontown Moonbeasts have beaten the Moonopolis Moonies at Moonball for five years running. Good luck winning the MoonCup back this year!

          Moontown rocks. lol... Mostly because of the rocks, but also because it's furthest away from earth... The main downside of Moontown (Besides the poor FedEx service) is that there are no views of the ocean.

            What are you talking about? From the near sided you'll be able to see All the oceans!

              Yeah, if Moontown is the furthest away from earth, then it means moontown is on the other side of the moon, which means - No ocean views.

                You'd need to hire a fun-gineer to manufacture a Moontown building, first.

                Last edited 11/12/14 3:54 pm

                  Well... Since I wrote that comment I've already lived on the moon for 12 months.

                  And the place is full of fun-gineers!!!!

                  Last edited 11/12/14 4:23 pm

    some how in australia it will be more $$$ thn standard build

      Yeah, so true they will put a moon tax on it or something... try get more money for Gillard...

      It will never make it to Perth, Len Buckridge (BGC) will not let it in the state!

        Len Buckridge is most likely busy replicating himself.

        Imagine, an army of BGC's.

    Anything that can make housing more affordable, especially in developing / 3rd worlds is a very good thing.
    Bring it on.

    The Greens etc would push to ban it, as concrete is considered to be a high CO2 intensive product, and polymers are also man made horrors, ewwww. Now if it could spit out straw and mud, no problems.

      Relevant! Totally relevant. Thanks for not just coming in to spout political arguments.

        "Political arguments"? I think you're giving him/her too much credit.

      Unlike like the plastics and other synthetic material in the machine you were just typing into ? Irrelevant pointyhead.

        It appears that propellor heads don't understand sarcasm. :)

          unfortunately, they rarely do.

    it will cost more but the time to build a new house is much faster. You could have a new house built in less than two weeks.....compared to months.

      Cost more? Did you read the article? 25% lower material costs and 50% lower labour costs.

      Did you even watch the video Mike... Derp...

    All good in theory, but a building site is not a factory floor that is perfectly flat, I can think of so many issues that this would throw up on a building site it’s not funny. Luckily the construction industry is not moved forward on the whims of crazy scientists.

      Maybe this is news to some people, but they tend to level building sites before they build on them. You know, surveyors, site works, concrete slabs, those kinds of exotic activities before the building construction actually gets built. I imagine the site works will still be required before they set up the printer.


    When you include building infrastructure on the moon in your pitch, you kinda lose credibility. Would be more relevant (and feasible) to include live-in scale-models of things for people to live in, like giant shoes for single mothers with large numbers of children.

    Additive construction methods have been in development for many years. There will need be a strong social and political movement to make this happen. Its still going the old way because of the nature of the process of building anything has so many dynamic components of construction in terms of labor and materials, Its economically and industrially sustainable, In other terms, there is too much money to be made in the industries as they are. When its made more efficient (and it will when used on a large scale over long periods) and less labor and materials are required for the job the overall profit margin comes down respectively which could make the process unsustainable long term. At least from my point of view.

      So in summary what you're saying is, greedy people in construction would oppose such advancement which would benefit human kind so they can selfishly keep their profits?

        Mike, unfortunately that's the way people in leadership work. Just look at the fuel, medical and war industries.. eg: Cancer - so many ways to cure it , but it's not profitable and doesn't contribute to population control. Ever wonder why celebrities and the rich and powerful that are diagnosed with it, are somehow miraculously healed in a short time?
        And war - if there was a complete stop to war there would be another GFC! And that would probably start a new war lol
        Hopefully in another 100yrs the leaders of the world will have figured out how to incorporate all the amazing technology we are developing into a sustainable financial system that allows them to maintain their power while still giving benefit to the masses. I'm not siding either way but think how involved managing a small business can be and then think of that in managing a country and the world. Gotta watch where you step cos there's alot of toes that don't want to be stepped on !

    Can't wait to scroll through hundreds of pages of pre-fab design sheets on DeviantArt.

    @ Jester
    Exactly... 25% lower material cost, 50% lower labour costs... 75% increased price because it's custom design... :)

    Those anti-piracy ads that people parody actually start making sense. Now excuse me, I'm off to download a new house and a car.

    Obviously the main advantage to this is, less dodgy builders.

    I'm all for it. Any issues about the georgaphy of a block of land is just a wrinkle and can be ironed out. I don't think this guy is a crazy scientist, hes trying to to make a long process a short one and for cheaper so third world countries are well... no longer third world :) People like this pioneer the evolution of humankind, and for the better.

    I love the vision... this is exactly what our world needs now. I grew up in the age of the Jetsons who promised us that we would have flying cars by 1975. Go figure... the first self-propelled automobile was built in the 1700's and was a convertible, had a stick shift, a steering wheel and a gas pedal. It's taken over 200 years to add air conditioning, music, GPS and a few more gears?? This is brilliant! Let's start moving closer to escape velocity!

    I would love for them to build me a new home here. If they could I would demolish mine. In Melbourne, Australia. I wonder how expensive it is. hmmm.

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