Life in 3D

Let’s All 3D Print Our Houses, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

It's like the holy grail of TED talks!
screen shot 2012 08 03 at 1 13 29 pm Lets All 3D Print Our Houses, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Artist’s rendering.

Is there anything 3D printers won’t wholly revolutionize? There’s the gun trade and illicit narcotics market, there’s the fine art of burrito making, and now, Atlantic Cities reports, a USC professor is working on a means of using them to wholly disrupt the construction business. That’s right–he proposes that we jettison prefab construction for just straight 3D printing your next home.

These still highly theoretical houses would be constructed/printed in layers, based on a computer program, with features like plumbing built in. Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis estimates that a 25,000-square-foot home could be built in as little as 24 hours. (Well, it’s not like the robots are making a daily rate and therefore see any need to drag the process out.)

Here’s the TEDx talk where he works through all this:

“What we are hoping to generate,” he explains, “are dignified, at a fraction of the cost, at a fraction of the time, far more safely, and with architectural flexibility that would be unprecedented.” He argues that this is one of the most promising solutions for the world’s many slums built of makeshift materials in poor conditions.

If you look up “TED Talk” in Wikipedia, pretty sure this is tossed out as a theoretical example.

That sounds great, but it’s also way more likely anyone commercializing this technology would make it into something a lot like a 21st century Levittown for the globe’s rising middle class. Sure, they’ll be snazzy and whimsically shaped, but they’ll be churned out quickly on vast tracts of land–typically called sprawl.

You know where this would be incredibly helpful, though? Colonizing Mars. Quick, someone get Elon Musk on the phone.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com