Sep.22, 2013

Skanska, a multinational construction and development company based in Sweden, where it also is the largest construction company, is using 3D printing technology in the construction of its £50m Bevis Marks development in the City of London.

Last week eight 3D printed cladding "shrouds" for the top section of tree-like steel columns supporting an ETFE roof on the building's roof terrace were installed on site, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) reports. "We're very excited by it – it's the first time the company has used the technique," says Skanska project manager and innovation champion Jonathan Inman. "But we're currently talking to other clients about other opportunities for 3D printing."

These eight different complex interfaces between roof and column were originally envisaged as cast steel nodes or welded or spliced steel plate, but these options were either expensive or difficult, or couldn't meet architect Fletcher Priest's aesthetic standards.

3D printing seems the ideal solution to such a technical problem. Skanska approached High Wycombe-based Quickparts, a 3D printing bureau that prints bespoke components in low-to-medium volume for the aerospace, defence and medical devices industries.

Traditional types of manufacturing need eight different moulds for these cladding nodes, but using 3D printing the company simply just produced eight unique shrouds according to their CAD files.

A selective laser sintering machine was used to fuse layers of powdered Nylon PA 12 to build up the complex shapes, the CIOB reports. The layer thickness was set to 0.1mm. And these shrouds were 3D printed in different sections and then assembled together. The total printing process took around three weeks. Finally, the 600mm wide, 800mm high nylon shrouds were finished and painted to resemble steel.

The shrouds performed well in accelerated exposure testing and now the construction of the 16-storey commercial building is nearing completion. Totally 22,000 square meter, this commercial building is due to start immediately after completion.

"3D printing is not here to replace traditional manufacturing, but it does go through the ceiling of what you can do cost effectively. It comes into its own when a low volume production run [using conventional manufacturing] is prohibitively expensive." says Simon Hammond, regional sales manager of Quickparts.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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mouldmesh wrote at 9/23/2013 10:53:47 AM:

Nylon painted to look like metal? I hope 3D printing doesn't replace all metal features with painted plastic...

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