Arup Develops 3D Printing Technique for Structural Steel

  • 06 Jun 2014
  • by
  • Architecture News Editor's Choice
© David de Jong

A team lead by Arup has developed a method of designing and 3D Printing  joints which will significantly reduce the time and cost needed to make complex nodes in tensile structures. Their research is being touted as “a whole new direction for the use of additive manufacturing” which provides a way of taking “firmly into the realm of real-world, hard hat construction.”

Aside from creating more elegant components which express the forces within each individual joint - as you can see in the above photo – the innovation could potentially reduce costs, cut waste and slash the carbon footprint of the construction sector.

Read on for more on this breakthrough

© David de Jong

Salomé Galjaard, the team leader at Arup, commented: “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 the design in a later stage to lower costs.”

Although the traditional method of manufacturing these steel nodes is currently cheaper, Arup is predicting that “this will change in the short term.”

© David de Jong

Others involved in developing the technology were WithinLab (an engineering design software and consulting company), CRDM/3D Systems (the Additive Manufacturing partner) and EOS, who worked on the early development of the technology.

© David de Jong

Interested in more Materials? Check out our new US product catalog, Materials.

Cite: Stott, Rory. "Arup Develops 3D Printing Technique for Structural Steel" 06 Jun 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • Rhodgers

    Fantastic! And a super efficient use of material with little to no redundancy. Also, I’m enjoying extrapolating the joint and trying to visualize the arrangement of members it connects to…
    The joints will become barometers of the structure, like the expressed skeleton of the CCTV building. Which will lend itself well to certain types of design, those of a particularly irregular and structurally eccentric nature. However, I think I would still find myself craving standardised joints for more repetitive and ordered pieces of architecture. Still, what an innovation.

    • zeeman

      Evolutionary Structural Optimisation dude. No way invented my Joris Laarman. He just used it. Maybe he ought to credit the researchers who invented the technique. Seesh.

  • Watchmen

    I wonder if this has something to do with Joris Laarman project’s, if not, i expect they pay him for stealing his idea

    • Firefly

      Testing 3D printing in metal was going long before Joris Laarman was doing his prototypes. Printing in metal is not an idea that can be stolen or that is owned by anyone. That would be like saying that the guy who built a wood house stole the idea from the guy next to him who built a wood house. Furthermore, the process used by Joris Laarman is different from the one used by Arup. Making accusations like this is one of the reasons the design/build industry is progressing so slowly.

  • St Germain

    I don’t see any substantive material provided by Arup to support this claim. If true let’s see some substance.

  • hendersoned

    the joint looks neat but unrepairable nor could it be feild modified. looks like somthing from a space ship or sail boat not a building.

  • hbkuchma

    I believe in this idea of 3D additive manufacturing. It can transform the world of the structural engineer. However, I’m with St. Germain. Has Arup actually manufactured a joist or have they developed it in principal. The piece shows a nice 3D sculpture with lots of holes, but I don’t know what this has to do with joists.

  • Kartik Jadhav

    Great step towards awesomeness…. new flexibility to designers…. and structural engineers