The 3D printing of metal parts has been advancing, in medical implants, aircraft components, and aircraft engines. Even complex lattice structures are not unusual, as Within has demonstrated in titanium implants. Now engineers at UK-based building design firm Arup have come up with a design method for 3D printing structural steel elements to be used in construction projects.
Interestingly, the curved lines of the first element, a steel node, resemble in a general way the "liquid lattice" structures Within designed for an automotive load-bearing engine block, using EOS's direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) process, as well as the turtle skeleton-inspired car body designed by the German firm EDAG Group. They are all beautiful art as well as elegant engineering design.
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Structural engineers at UK-based building design firm Arup have come up with a design method for 3D printing structural steel elements to be used in construction projects. The steel node shown here is the first component to be produced using the new method.
Also of interest is that Arup says it worked with both Within and CRDM, a 3D printing and prototyping service bureau acquired by 3D Systems that targets the aerospace, automotive, defense, consumer, and medical sectors for prototyping, pre-production, and full production parts. CRDM uses EOS DMLS machines and recently made several props and costumes for the Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow, including the stars' exoskeleton suits. EOS also collaborated with Arup during the beginning of the technology's development.
Arup's structural engineers say redesigning the steel node for a lightweight structure so it could be 3D printed resulted in a more efficient, individualized piece. Using 3D printing for making structural steel building elements will also reduce costs and cut waste. It will especially enable highly sophisticated, complex designs that don't have to be simplified later on during a project in order to cut costs.
The company's engineers have previously designed several lightweight, large, complex structures such as 470-meter-long pedestrian Kurilpa Bridge in Brisbane, Australia. That multi-mast cable-stay structure was designed using tensegrity principles, a term coined by Buckminster Fuller that combines "tension" and "structural integrity." The global distribution of force through a non-rigid structure, such as those found in natural forms like cells, gives maximum strength without adding weight, and minimizes the number of points of local weakness. NASA has used tensegrity principles to design its Super Ball Bots.
Arup says it's at the forefront of designing the complex geometry, tensegrity-based structures. The company has also designed bridges and structures based on unusual forms, such as the world's first curved double-helix bridge in Singapore, the improbable-looking China Central Television headquarters in Beijing, as well as high-rise buildings, airports, and hospitals.
You're right, jhankwitz, it's specific parts on the SpaceX Dragon V2 that were 3D printed. OTOH, these are engine combustion chambers for the thrusters http://3dprint.com/4740/spacex-dragon-2-3d-print/ which says a lot about the mechanical properties possible with direct metal laser sintering.
RandD, thanks for the reminder about the process of engineering regarding new materials and assembly/construction methods. I suppose it could be summed up as "don't trust and always verify" which can only be done during the actual design process. I think of it a bit like the process called "discovery" in legal situations.
No doubt this 3d printed steel should be compared with original steel and yes if the compositions and the strenght of both are same then definitely 3d printed steel is on its way towards future technology .
Ann thanks alot for such an interesting post , thats really very great and amazing to see where the technology is moving and going 3 d printing is no doubt becomming very popular and it will be one of the famous technology in future.
eafpres: You raise several good points, but none are new. All would have to be considered for any new material, or construction technique. I'm sure all these same points were considered when riveted aluminum was being touted for airplane fuselages. Sometimes, it's not all knowable from day one, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried. It does mean adequate prudence is called for, good testing, and continuous evaluation. This is what we (Engineers) do.
Regarding comparable properties of 3D-printed metals, some such studies have already been done. Some are mentioned in this article we posted by Optomec: http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=271188 Independent tests that actually showed better yield and tensile strength in 3D printed Ti-6Al-4V alloys used for structural components on aircraft made with Optomec's machines are discussed here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=264842 Also, for comparison, specs for EOS' various steels and other metals, which conform to specific ASTM standards for mechanical properties and chemical composition, can be accessed here http://www.eos.info/material-m
78RPM, there aren't any existing standards for 3D printing methods, although that's the subject of several America Makes (formerly NAMII) projects, as we've reported. We've also reported on ASTM standards efforts for 3D printed parts. There certainly are existing industry standards for steel parts in the construction industry. And that's certainly true in other industries using 3D printed metal parts for end-use apps, such as aerospace, sporting equipment, and medical and dental implants.
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