Arup engineers have used new additive manufacturing techniques to 3D print prototypes of steel nodes that could be used to construct complex, tensile structures more efficiently.

Made from maraging steel, each of the 12-centimetre-tall prototypes is produced at just under half the size of a real node and has been put through preliminary material tests.

Research conducted by Arup shows that the manufacturing method has the potential to significantly reduce costs, cut waste and slash the carbon footprint of the construction sector.

Salomé Galjaard, Team Leader at Arup said that the approach could also enable the creation of complex and sophisticated bespoke structural pieces, without having to simplify because of costs.

According to Galjaard, the maraging steel is four times as strong as normal construction steel and is expected to become even slimmer, smaller and lighter with further developments – ideal for lightweight structures.

Arup engineers were inspired to produce the 3D printed steel after working on complex tensegrity structures around the world, including Australia’s own Kurilpa Bridge, which stretches across the Brisbane River.

Courtesy Evolo