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Sat February 27 2021

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3D printing breakthrough claimed for construction steelwork

5 Jun 14 Engineers from Arup claim to have come up with a method for 3D printing structural steelwork components.

Arup says that its team is pushing the boundaries of 3D printing, taking technology “firmly into the realm of real-world, hard hat construction”.

Using additive manufacturing, popularly called 3D printing, the Arup team has produced a design method for critical structural steel elements for use in complex projects.

They claim that their research also shows that additive manufacturing has the potential to reduce costs, cut waste and slash the carbon footprint of the construction sector.

Arup created a redesign of a steel node for a light weight structure. The complex geometry of this kind of node makes them an ideal showcase of the possibilities of this new technique, Arup says.

A traditionally produced steel node (pictured below right) is still cheaper to produce today, but this is expected to change imminently. 3D printing becomes more cost-effective the more complex the node (below left, for example).

"By using additive manufacturing we can create lots of complex individually designed pieces far more efficiently. 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,” said team leader Salomé Galjaard, Team Leader.

Arup funded the development work 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.

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