Fosters explores metal 3D printing

Architect Foster + Partners is working on an EU-funded project exploring the potential of large-scale metal-based 3D printing.

The LASIMM (large additive subtractive integrated modular machine) project is working on the development of all-in-one hybrid machines that would enable the production of components directly from computer-aided design models.

Foster + Partners said the machine would feature a modular configuration of industrial robot arms to arc weld metals into a component’s shape, and a specialised milling robot to machine away surplus material and provide the product’s final finish.

“This process would enable the building industry to move away from standardised components and towards bespoke solutions for every building,” the practice said.

“It would also mean that these components could be produced within a reduced time frame at a fraction of the cost.”

According to the firm, the evolution of digitally-controlled fabrication techniques will lead to entire buildings being constructed from bespoke 3D-printed parts in the years to come.

The LASIMM project is being funded through the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and is currently in the first year of an anticipated three-year run.

Foster + Partners is collaborating with nine partners, including the European Welding Federation and BAE Systems. Its main role is providing end-user feedback from the construction sector.

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