Challenges and prospects of 3D printing in structural engineering

Mahmud Ashraf*, Ian Gibson, M Golam Rashed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

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Additive Manufacturing (AM), commonly known as 3D printing, is
seemingly offering a wealth of possibilities in the manufacturing industry. This
technology is frequently used in aerospace and biomedical engineering but its
impact on construction industry is still at a perceived stage. 3D printing
technologies bring along the exciting opportunity of producing innovative and
efficient structural shapes to suit specific design requirements without requiring
complex and time consuming traditional forming and assembly processes. Metallic
3D printing technologies have advanced significantly during the last decade but
large-scale structural applications of 3D printed metallic elements are still nonexistent; this is largely due to the smaller size of existing printers. This paper
focusses on recent advancements and case studies on metallic 3D printed
structures with special emphasis on an ongoing project on metallic microlattice
structures printed from stainless steel and titanium. Microlattice structures have
been manufactured using Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) techniques i.e. Selective Laser
Melting (SLM) and Electron Beam Melting (EBM), showing widely varying surface
imperfections for struts in different orientations. Presence of micro-pores is also an
alarming issue that could affect the overall integrity of a structure. Appropriate
inclusion of all significant factors in numerical modelling brings along unique and
exciting challenges to be addressed. A critical evaluation on the prospect of using
3D printing in structural engineering is presented herein with some specific
challenges identified that would require extensive research to appropriately exploit
the beneficial effects of this exciting new technology in construction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication13th International Conference on Steel, Space and Composite Structures
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event13th International Conference on Steel, Space and Composite Structures 2018 - Perth, Australia
Duration: 31 Jan 20182 Feb 2018
Conference number: 13


Conference13th International Conference on Steel, Space and Composite Structures 2018


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