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Contour crafting

Contour Crafting (CC) is a layered fabrication technology developed by Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis at 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. 

Applications of the CC technology may include various types of building constructions including housing, commercial and government buildings. Another application domain is infrastructure construction which could include foundations, slabs, bridges, pylons, etc. And finally extraterrestrial construction, that is, building on Moon and Mars for planetary exploration, exploitation, habitation and colonization is another major field of use of CC technology. 

Contour Crafting - First in the world | Behrokh Khoshnevis

Contour Crafting - First in the world | Behrokh Khoshnevis
Contour Crafting - First in the world | Behrokh Khoshnevis
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Contour Crafting and building cities on Mars
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Why Design Now?: Contour Crafting
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Dr. Khoshnevis is internationally recognized as the Founder of the field of Large-Scale 3D Printing. The following is a recently published graph by an independent source in Europe demonstrating the ground-breaking impact of Contour Crafting by initiating the large-scale 3D Printing field (Source:


Contour Crafting Corporation (CC Corp- is an early stage company with the mission to commercialize disruptive construction technologies, starting with Contour Crafting, CC Corp’s flagship technology. 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.


selective inhibition sintering (SIS)

SIS is an additive manufacturing (AM) technology in which parts are built layer-by-layer from a powder base material. The core idea of the SIS process is the prevention of selected areas of powder layers from sintering. SIS may be considered a contrary approach to the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process in which selected areas of powder are sintered by a fine laser beam. SIS takes advantage of bulk sintering in the body of the part, while inhibiting sintering at the part boundaries.

The advantages of the SIS process are:

  • Low Cost: The machine will be far less expensive than the equivalent SLS machine because the high power laser generator of SLS is replaced with an inexpensive heat element

  • Speed: The process is fast because the entire layer undergoes bulk sintering

  • Accuracy: The dimensional accuracy and surface quality is high due to the high resolution inkjet printer used in combination with fine powder particles

  • Multi-color parts may be fabricated if various colors of the inhibitor are deposited (as in color inkjet printers)

  • No contamination of parts, material, or furnaces

  • Great potential of printing large parts

  • Platform technology for metals, plastics and ceramics.

  • Currently the only technology that has the capability of printing ceramic parts

The SIS technology has been licensed by HP.

Ring, Mobius Bracelet.JPG




selective Separation Shaping (SsS)

Selective separation shaping (SSS) is a novel powder based additive manufacturing method that can build parts of various scale out of polymers, metals, ceramics and composites including cementitious materials. This is achieved at relatively high speed and with minimal machine complexity. In the SSS process, a thin wall of a separator powder material (S-powder) is deposited within the base material powder (B-powder) of which the part would be made by means of a narrow nozzle which emerges into the powder at the depth of one layer to form a barrier on the boundary of each layer. The nozzle has a slot at its outlet with the height of one layer through which the S-powder flows out under the vibration effect generated by a piezo element. The deposited barrier creates a physical separation between the part and surrounding material, which allows for the separation of the part from the surrounding powder after consolidation by fusing, sintering or bonding is complete. In case of sintering, which applies to printing metallic and ceramic parts, the S-powder could be a high temperature powder such as magnesia or tungsten powder or any other powder material which has a higher melting point than the base material.


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. In 2016, SSS won an international competition Grand Prize by NASA as the most capable and versatile metallic and ceramic Additive Manufacturing technology for micro-gravity and planetary applications. Followings are the advantages of SSS over current AM approaches:

  1. SSS can process a range of diverse materials.

  2. Any high melting point material may be processes by SSS as long as there is another material with a higher melting point that can be used as separator agent.

  3. SSS can build very fast because it only treats part surfaces, not its core.

  4. The SSS machines can be inexpensive and simple (hence reliable) because there is no reliance on expensive technologies such as laser and electron beam.

  5. SSS can be more accurate than spot-heating processes that use laser and electron beam because in spot-heating processes heat expands through conduction hence the process resolution is not as fine as the beam diameter.

  6. The nozzle opening in SSS may be a tall and thin slot along the length of the nozzle which would allow large-scale parts to be built with layers that could be as thick as bricks thereby allowing rapid construction of large structures with cementitious or other materials.

  7. SSS is the only powder-based AM process that can operate without powder layering by inserting its nozzle deep into the base powder and depositing the separation powder for every part layer profile, each time raising the nozzle to deposit the succeeding layer. Among other advantages, this property of SSS makes it the only powder based approach that can work in micro gravity condition without requiring complex mechanisms (such as those used for creation of centrifugal force) for powder layering.



Metallic (bronze and stainless steel) and ceramic (lunar regolith)

parts made with the SSS process


A double-layer concrete part with layer height of 1.5cm


Bronze part produced without powder layering

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