3Dealise and Arup shortlisted for TCT Awards - Generative Structural Elements for the Building Industry

Generative design   TCT Shortlisted

 

Engineering firm Arup (famous for the Sydney Opera House and many more global landmarks) was looking for new ways to make a large series of one-off structural building elements in metal. The construction incorporated 1200 individually different connection nodes. One option was to weld those nodes with traditional technology, which would make the nodes clunky and heavy.

 

Using ‘freedom of design’ of 3D printing, it could be possible to make the nodes significantly lighter and aesthetically more appealing. Arup’s engineers set to work using generative design software to come up with a concept. The concept design indeed saved 75% of the weight. And because the total of 1600 nodes would be significantly lighter, the supporting structure as a whole could be more than 40% lighter.

 

3D metal printing

 

Now, the design had to be produced in a feasible way. The initial thought was to use 3D metal printing. It was demonstrated that the technology would be structurally feasible, but there were drawbacks. Production time would be relatively slow for 1600 pieces (with the current available metal printers), costs were 10 to 20 times higher than traditional methods, and perhaps the biggest hurdle was regulation: construction safety standards do not allow for 3D metal printed parts in critical positions as yet.

 

Hybrid 3D printing

 

Hybrid production, using both 3D printing and traditional technology, could potentially offer a solution that enables both ‘freedom of design’ and feasible production. 3Dealise uses 3D sand printing to print a sand mould for metal casting. 3D sand printing enables ‘freedom of design’, is cost effective, and the casting process is well covered and certified in conventional building standards. 

 

 

 Generative-structural-node-1     Thumb-Generative-structural-node-2

Above: Two views of the generative structural node produced for Arup

 

3Dealise (the industrial 3D printing company) cooperated with Arup engineers to optimise the generative node design for this production method. 3Dealise engineers then designed a sand mould to produce the node, which is effectively the inverse of the product design, and also incorporates the casting runner system, partitions, vents, etc. Because of the complexity of the generative design, 3Dealise developed a completely new way of partitioning the mould.

 

 

 Thumb-3D-Printer-3Dealise

Above: The industrial 3D printer at 3Dealise

 

3Dealise then worked with Sanders Castings to produce the node. Sanders assembled the innovative mould concept, and produced the casting.

 

Results

 

Together, Arup, 3Dealise and Sanders demonstrated the following:

 

 

OUR VISION : THE NEXT MANUFACTURING REVOLUTION

Freedom of design
Direct from CAD
Local for local
One stop shop
No waste
Low carbon
Rapid
Series of one