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October 28, 2018

TU Delft, Arup and RAMLAB develop glass swing with 3D printed nodes

Researchers from BK Bouwkunde TU Delft developed a functioning glass swing, together with Arup, Schott, and RAMLAB. Users of the Glass Swing are able to interact with the structure, a showcase of the structural potential of glass.

The Glass Swing is constructed from structural glass, combined with additive manufacturing of steel. The geometry of the swing is developed by applying the topology optimisation method Bi-directional Evolutionary Structural Optimisation (BESO). BESO removes material from a given domain, to design a structure with optimal stiffness under applied loading and boundary conditions.

The structure of the Glass Swing is created from glass struts. Each strut is composed of five rods, sponsored by Schott. Since glass is preferably loaded in compression, a steel bar is placed in the middle to prestress the glass struts. With slender elements, the dimensions of the glass rods are determined by applying buckling as normative design criterium.

3D printed steel nodes are used to connect the glass struts. The nodes are produced with the Wire and Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) technique by RAMLAB. This technique was selected as the geometry of the nodes was highly complex and most of the nodes were unique. WAAM is already successfully applied by RAMLAB to produce structural elements in the maritime industry. Octatube provided steel cast spheres which are used as base material. Bolts are used to connect the struts to the nodes, which allows for easy demounting.

The Glass Swing has been developed by the Glass & Transparency Research Group, a collaboration between BK Bouwkunde and the faculty of Civil Engineering and Geo Sciences. The responsible researchers are Rob Nijsse, Lennert van der Linden, and Ate Snijder.