3D printed steel bracket yields fresh innovation for construction giant

Arup's 3D printing steel brackets' evolution Arup's 3D printing steel brackets' evolution
Construction giant Arup is claiming that 3D printing is to make its construction debut, following the announcement it has produced a series of metallic brackets that are re-engineered structural steel elements. The part is designed to fit firmly into real-world, ‘hard hat’ construction projects, and could signal a new direction for the company, as it begins to experiment with additive manufacturing technology in the field of construction and engineering.

Research carried out by Arup shows that additive manufacturing in the sector has the potential to reduce costs, cut waste and slash carbon footprint in certain areas. It’s a picture mirrored by other industrial sectors – such as automotive and aerospace – that both view the technology with increasing interest.

The work carried out by Arup is a steel node normally used on tensegrity structures. The complex geometries are an ideal showcase for the additive technique.

Salomé Galjaard, a team leader at Arup, said: “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 anything at a later stage to reduce costs.”

Arup funded the development work and collaborated with a number of partners to realise the designs, including WithinLab, CRDM/3D Systems and EOS.

The question for every industry is, ‘how to make 3D printed parts an efficient choice for production?’ Low volume and added value parts are initially the best fit, with it now being used for jigs and fixtures, as well as its more traditional area of prototyping. However, end use parts like this are becoming increasingly common in a variety of industries.

Justin Cunningham

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