Smart Planet has covered the use of 3D printers for everything from new arms for a little girl to real guns. And these are amazing achievements. So it's only natural that scientists are looking for even bigger things to print.
A professor from the University of Southern California has developed a system to print out entire houses with all the fixings including concrete foundation, plumbing and electrical wiring.
Engineering professor Behrokh Khoshnevis scaled up 3D printing so that it can be used to construct buildings by using a process called Contour Crafting.
Contour Crafting is a layered fabrication technology that uses a moveable gantry taller than the house to be built. Walls are built up layer by layer using concrete with automatic reinforcement or plumbing added in the process.
Khoshnevis says current construction methods are slow, labor intensive and costly. With Contour Crafting, houses could be built for a fraction of the cost and in less time. Khoshnevis says that a 2500-square-foot house can be built in approximately 20 hours.
He says the method could be used to construct emergency or low-income housing.
You can listen to Khoshnevis talk about his idea at a recent TEDx event: