How Does It Work?

Contour Crafting is a fabrication process by which large-scale parts can be fabricated quickly in a layer-by-layer fashion. The chief advantages of the Contour Crafting process over existing technologies are the superior surface finish that is realized and the greatly enhanced speed of fabrication. The success of the technology stems from the automated use of age-old tools normally wielded by hand, combined with conventional robotics and an innovative approach to building three-dimensional objects that allows rapid fabrication times. Actual scale civil structures such as houses may be built by CC. Contour Crafting has been under development under support from the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research.

More recently, the direction of development has been in the use of various ceramics (including piezo electric actuators) and construction materials. Another high potential application is construction of civil structures such as houses. Emergency and low income housing construction fields are being considered by various entities. Also, the application of CC in building adobe structures using inexpensive materials is being pursued in conjunction with the CalEarth organization.

As for the future development direction of CC, a relatively large multidisciplinary research team at the University of Southern California will be investigating the application of the technology in construction of modern civil structures, construction of structures on the moon and Mars, and in fine arts on the creation of large ceramic sculptures.

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