Jun 9, 2014

Arup, an engineering and design firm in UK, claims to have come up with a method for designing and 3D printing critical structural steelwork components for use in buildings and complex projects.

"Arup engineers are pushing the boundaries of 3D printing to take the technology firmly into the realm of real-world, hard hat construction." said Arup's Salomé Galjaard. Using the latest 3D printing techniques, or more accurately, 'additive manufacturing', the Arup team created a redesign of a steel node for a light weight structure that they say will make construction cheaper and less wasteful.

"By using additive manufacturing we can create lots of complex individually designed pieces far more efficiently." commented Galjaard. "This has tremendous implications for reducing costs and cutting waste. But most importantly, this approach potentially enables a very sophisticated design, without the need to simplify the design in a later stage to lower costs."

The traditional method of manufacturing these steel nodes is still cheaper to produce today, but Arup expects that "this will change in the short term."

Arup began researching the idea around a year and a half ago and collaborated with a number of partners to realise the designs, including WithinLab (an engineering design software and consulting company), CRDM/3D Systems (the additive manufacturing partner) and EOS, who worked on the early development of the technology.

In an earlier environmental lifecycle comparison of two key production technologies, rapid investment casting and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS), an additive manufacturing technology, EOS reported that CO2 emissions over the whole lifecycle of the structural steel were reduced by nearly 40% via weight saving that resulted from an optimized geometry, which is enabled by the design freedom offered by the DMLS process. In addition the DMLS process itself used only the material actually needed to make the part—thereby eliminating waste from secondary machining and reducing consumption of titanium by 25 percent over the cast application.

Up to 1,200 different configurations for the prototype were designed, and the node's weight could be reduced even further without compromising its ability to handle the required loads, Galjaard told Global Construction Review. She expects that the next step could be using the development in large sculptures before they could be finally used in buildings.

Images by David de Jong via Arup

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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WilbBob wrote at 6/9/2014 10:41:58 AM:

Wow, but my first thought is as you par down the material to just do the job, whats the margin for error/wear and tear as these parts are going to be so much more susceptible to corrosion.

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