Contour Crafting (CC) is basically a "house printer;" when supplied with the proper instructions, it will "print out" a complete shell of a house. Technovelgy readers should be familiar with the work of Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis from a previous article (see Contour Crafting: 3D House Printer for additional details on how the technique actually works).
(Robotic Contour Crafting Video )
According to a recent article in the TimesOnLine, a UK news site, Dr. Khoshnevis' Contour Crafting techniques will receive their first real world test in Los Angeles sometime in April of this year. The first prototype will be a watertight shell of a two-story house built in 24 hours - without a single construction worker on the job site.
Citing a 200-1 speed increase over traditional house-building methods, Dr. Khoshnevis particularly recommends his methods for use after natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina:
Contour Crafting is the only layered fabrication technology which is suitable for large scale fabrication. CC is also capable of using a variety of materials with large aggregates and additives such as reinforcement fibre. Due to its speed and its ability to use in-situ materials, Contour Crafting has the potential for immediate application in low income housing and emergency shelter construction
Update 01-Feb-2014The earliest sf reference (not to mention the earliest reference period) that I know of for 3D printing is from Things Pass By, a 1945 story by Murray Leinster:
It makes drawings in the air following drawings it scans with photo-cells. But plastic comes out of the end of the drawing arm and hardens as it comes. This thing will start at one end of a ship or a house and build it complete to the other end, following drawings only.
(Read more about Leinster's Plastic Constructor)