Contour Crafting Corporation from the US is poised and ready to start series production of first-generation deployable robotic 3D construction printers. The man behind the high-tech company is the pioneering inventor of this technology, Behrokh Khoshnevis. who has partnered with Doka Ventures, a subsidiary of the Austrian Umdasch Group from Amstetten.
Earth’s population, according to scientific forecasts, will rise to eleven billion by the year 2100. There will also be an enormous increase in urbanization. Right now half the people in the world live in cities; by 2050 the figure will be in the region of 75 percent. These developments pose huge challenges for the building industry. Affordable accommodation and infrastructure will have to be built rapidly. Conventional methods of construction will be unable to deliver.
Doka Ventures is taking a 30 percent stake in Contour Crafting Corporation. Doka Ventures’ role of core shareholder is long-term and is reflected in personnel appointments to the positions of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chair of the Board of Directors. Behrokh Khoshnevis is to remain the majority shareholder, President and CEO of the company. Khoshnevis, a professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, developed the contour crafting technologies at the University of Southern California. He worked with the USC Stevens Center for Innovation, the technology transfer office for the university, to obtain a license for the technologies to further develop them within his own company.
“Very soon, we’ll have the first series-ready deployable robotic 3D construction printer” says Behrokh Khoshnevis, President and CEO of Contour Crafting Corporation.
According to Khoshnevis the robot 3D printer will be able to initially print building shells layer by layer and so construct entire developments on site. The process massively reduces the time needed for erecting an entire building to mere hours or days. Depending on the model, the first generation commercial construction robots will have a reach of between 24 feet to 40 feet and a user selectable length that could be substantially larger. Tipping the scales at less than 800 lbs, it is very light for a large construction machine. It is also very simple to put together and take apart, says Khoshnevis. An ordinary truck or a standard marine-freight shipping container has ample space for several of the robots. One or two operators certified by Contour Crafting Corporation can monitor progress on the build.
The robotic 3D construction printers are designed for use wherever accommodation and infrastructure have to be provided rapidly and affordably. Alongside social housing construction, Khoshnevis also envisions this for disaster relief, such as building the new structures needed in a hurry after an earthquake. The future customers include construction companies and real estate developers.
“The first orders are already in the books,” confirms Werner H. Bittner, newly appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of Contour Crafting Corporation.
The robots are to be manufactured in a 33,600 sq-ft facility in El Segundo. The first series-ready 3D construction printers are scheduled for dispatch at the start of 2018. In addition to manufacturing and selling robotic 3D construction printers, Contour Crafting Corporation also intends to provide on-site building construction as a service.