New research by Arup Australasia in the field of digital fabrication technologies reveals that printed sand moulds can be an affordable and accessible way of producing certified structural nodes in metal.

With support from Anglo-Dutch company 3Dealise, Arup took the design of a 3D-printed steel structural node and adapted it to a new manufacturing method, using a sand printed mould and traditional cast metal.

Printed sand moulds allow metal nodes to be produced as any other metal cast as a certified material. Sand printing is also quick, the materials can be reused, and the cost can be kept low.

Arup has been testing alternative production techniques and materials, with a focus on 3D-printing metal for building sector applications during the last four years. However, there are challenges with the implementation, since the printing hardware is only now starting to adapt the building chambers to the required size. The sand printing technique can produce large and complex moulds while using a certified and affordable production process. 

Salomé Galjaard, Senior Designer, Arup, says:

“An interesting shift is taking place; whereas the focus initially has been on printing final products, 3D-printing is being applied in an earlier phase in the production process. The aim is to make the most of the freedom-of-form opportunities of 3D-printing without the limitations, which are now still considered with production.”

TCT Show

Key findings of Arup’s sand printing research will be presented at the TCT Show, one of the world's leading events dedicated to 3D printing, additive manufacturing and product development (26-28 September in Birmingham).

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