New Steel 3D Printing Technique Stands to Revolutionize Construction Industry

The new critical structural steel elements will make building things less wasteful

By Sebastian Pop on June 7th, 2014 07:09 GMT

You'd think that a method that allows critical building elements to be created for a lot less money and with a lot less waste would come at a cost of endurance or some such things, but that is not the case for the 3D printing technology from Arup.

The company has created a 3D printing technology, additive manufacturing to be specific, that makes critical structural elements out of steel.

You know, the kind that go into a building's foundation, the supporting pylons, girder junctures, and other things used to hold a building together in the long run.

There are other things as well. For example, huge skyscrapers need the steel beams to be knitted in very special ways, for them to be able to slide around and through each other, and the construction joints.

It allows the huge, tall buildings to survive earthquakes because the tremors are diverted upwards and in all directions, instead of the block shaking like a tree in the wind until the root gives out. Or, God forbid, the trunk breaks at the middle.

Arup, an engineering and design firm, is using additive manufacturing to create many, new and complex pieces, which can be designed individually.

Previously, that wasn't possible. Or, rather, it wasn't practical, because manufacturing facilities make things in bulk, and to modify one production line would force all subsequent construction elements to come out the same.

Now, with 3D printing, you can produce elements according to need, and the mass production issues aren't even a problem. Even if you want something particularly weird or unique, you can get it done in a matter of days, all by using the same piece of equipment: a 3D printer.

"By using additive manufacturing we can create lots of complex individually designed pieces far more efficiently," Arup's Salomé Galjaard said in a release.

"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."

Above and below are some examples of Arup's 3D printed steel critical construction components. You'll be excused if you think they're sculpted works of art instead of building blocks. After all, some of them have sinuous, net-like segments, and others are twisted around some odd, oblique axis. They should be good for any unique architectural project you come up with, like asymmetrical monuments and museums.
Arup 3D printed steel construction element
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   Arup 3D printed steel construction element

Arup 3D printed steel elements (5 Images)

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