Illustrating the real-world benefits of additive manufacturing

Posted on 13 May 2015 by Jonny Williamson

A photograph released by Arup engineers reveals the future potential of additive manufacturing, with all three pieces having the same structural strength.

The image illustrates how additive manufacturing can enhance the design and production process to the point that the weight and resulting cost of future construction materials could be reduced significantly.

The three structural elements shown are all designed to carry the same structural loads and forces. The difference is that the far smaller item on the right is designed using the very latest optimisation and manufacturing methods applied by Arup.

Team leader at Arup, Salomé Galjaard highlighted that this is not only an exciting development for the construction sector, but many other industries as well: “In this particular piece, the height is approximately half that of one designed for traditional production methods, while the direct weight reduction per node is 75%.

“On a construction project that means we could be looking at an overall weight reduction of the total structure of more than 40%. But the really exciting part is that this technique can potentially be applied to any industry that uses complex, high quality, metal products.”

The additive manufacturing approach means that manufacturers can create highly complex, individually designed pieces and print them directly in metal. This in itself has significant implications for reducing costs and cutting waste.

But the latest advances in the design techniques explored by Galjaard’s team mean that far smaller, lighter elements can deliver the same function and strength as those created by traditional methods.