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Sand printing makes complex casted structural parts affordable

Pien Niehe Pien Niehe Europe Press Office,Amsterdam
19 September 2017

Arup's recent research in the field of digital fabrication technologies proves how printing sand can be an affordable and accessible way of producing certified, unique structural nodes in metal.

Arup initiated a research in the field of printing sand moulds for use in a traditional metal casting process. We took the design of the renowned 3d-printed steel structural node and adapted it to a new manufacturing method, using a sand printed mould and traditional cast metal. The Anglo-Dutch company 3Dealise helped us with the process.

Using a printed sand-mould, the metal node can be produced as any other metal cast as a certified material. Other advantages are the fact that sand printing is quick, the materials can be reused and the cost can be kept low.

During the last 4 years we pushed the boundaries of alternative production techniques and materials, with a focus on 3D-printing metal for building sector applications. Despite the potential of this technique, the implementation encounters some difficulties in the building sector, since the printing hardware is only now starting to adapt the building chambers to the required size, and costs are still relatively high. The sand printing technique however can produce large and complex moulds whilst using a certified and affordable production process. 

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. ” Salome Galjaard Salomé Galjaard Senior Designer, Arup

TCT Show

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

Sand printed mould plus metal node. ©Davidfotografie Sand printed mould plus metal node. ©Davidfotografie
Sand printed mould and casted metal node. Copyright: ©Davidfotografie.