Topology optimisation can be used as a design method to reduce material without affecting the functionality of an object. Despite being one of the most demanding economic sectors in terms of material consumption, the construction industry has not yet adopted such design methods. This is generally because computational optimisation algorithms produce complex solutions which are difficult to fabricate, especially at a large scale. This project investigates the feasibility of using additive manufacturing to produce large‐scale building components with optimised material distribution.
A two square metre demonstrator was developed through a hybrid process based on topology optimisation and mesh subdivision. A two‐dimensional evolutionary optimisation algorithm was used with the main goal to reduce material to a 0.25 set fraction of the initial amount while minimising deformations of the slab under uniform surface load. Boundary conditions were set to three fixed supports. The resulting geometry was 3D printed using sand binder-jetting and infiltrated with a stabilising resin.
Compared to a standard solid slab, the 3D printed slab uses 75% less material. This fact draws attention to the major potential and proposes a fabrication method based on additive processes which is viable at a large scale. Optimising the topology of building components can have a global impact in reducing material costs and the carbon footprint of constructions and infrastructure.