Contour Crafting

Contour Crafting (CC) is a layered fabrication technology developed by Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis of the University of Southern California. Contour Crafting technology has great  potential for automating the construction of whole structures as well as sub-components. Using this process, a single house or a  colony of houses, each with possibly a different design, may be automatically constructed in a single run, embedded in each house all the conduits for electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning. 

The potential applications of this technology are far reaching including but our research also addresses the application of Contour Crafting in building habitats on other planets. Contour Crafting will most probably be one of the very few feasible approaches for building structures on other planets, such as the Moon and Mars, which are being targeted for human colonization before the end of the new century not limited to applications in emergency, low-income, and commercial housing.

 Contour Crafting Corporation

Contour Crafting Corporation (CC Corp) is a USC spin-off and an early stage company with the mission to commercialize disruptive construction technologies, starting with Contour Crafting (CC). CC Corp was founded by Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, the inventor of the Contour Crafting in collaboration with major international partners to commercialize Contour Crafting and his other large scale 3D printing technologies. There are more than 100 US and international patents on various aspects of Contour Crafting and other technologies which have been licensed to CC Corp by the University of Southern California and a significant number of additional patent applications are independently in progress at CC Corp.  Contour Crafting was selected by the NASA Tech Briefs Media Group as the top technology among 1000+ globally competing technologies to receive Grant Prize in November 2014 and was earlier named as one of “25 Best Inventions of the Year” by National Inventor’s Hall of Fame and History Channel’s Modern Marvels Program. CC Corp’s other large-scale 3D printing technology called Selective Separation Shaping received another NASA international Grand Prize in 2016.



Contour Crafting can significantly reduce the cost of commercial construction. Projections indicate costs will be around one fifth as much as conventional construction. Contour Crafting promises to eliminate waste of construction materials. Contour Crafting construction projects will be extremely accelerated; for example a 2000 square foot house can be constructed in less than 24 hours. This rapid construction time minimizes the financing costs of construction projects that typically take six months or longer to complete. While the costs of manual labor will be significantly reduced, physical power will be exchanged for brain power in the construction industry. For the first time women and the elderly will be able to take part in the construction industry. Construction could become a consumer market, wherein a house or other structure could be designed and built by the family that will occupy it. Reduced costs, and automated building will make construction accessible to anyone. Imagine a Contour Crafting machine for lease at your local Home Depot.

Building Automated Construction

Contour Crafting (CC) - The ability to fabricate extraterrestrial habitats, laboratories or manufacturing facilities is the key element for long-term human survival on the Moon or Mars. Contour Crafting technology has the potential to build safe, reliable, and affordable lunar and Martian structures, habitats, laboratories, and other facilities before the arrival of human beings. Contour Crafting construction systems are being developed that exploit in situ resources and can utilize lunar regolith as construction material. These structures can include integrated radiation shielding, plumbing, electrical, and sensor networks. 

Space Applications

Selective Separation Sintering (SSS), a new 3D-printing process developed by a USC engineer to enable the construction of physical structures in space, won first place in the NASA In-Situ Materials Challenge. The competition was held in collaboration with the Kennedy Space Center and Swamp Works to advance construction and human habitation in space. SSS is the only powder-based process that can effectively work in zero gravity condition and as such it is ideal for use in the International Space Station for fabrication of spare parts and tools.

The proposed approach, showed on this page by an animation, is based on using concrete and automatically constructing towers by means of:  a) robotic system that can climb the tower as it is being constructed by a novel construction module, b) the construction module based on Contour Crafting (a large-scale 3D Printing system), and c) a novel material delivery system. The robotic system keeps the construction module that it carries well aligned in such a way that the final tower ends up having near-perfect geometry and orientation with respect to the horizon. A small-scale version of the system has been constructed and the feasibility of the concept has been proven. Future plans of CC Corp includes the development of full-scale CC tower builders.

The major advantages of the new approach are:

  • Fully autonomous operation

  • Usage of concrete that eliminates factory work on steel segments and difficult transportation

  • Safe operation due to elimination of human tasks at risky elevations and windy condition

  • Low cost of transportation

  • Possibility of building much taller towers

Infrastructure Construction