British architect claims "first architectural
application" of 3D printing

| 15 comments

First architectural application of 3D printing Adrian Priestman 6 Bevis Marks dezeen

News: British architect Adrian Priestman claims to have designed and installed the first 3D-printed components to be approved for use in the construction industry.

"This is truly the first architectural application of the 3D nylon sintered technology," Priestman told Dezeen, referring to a decorative sheath he developed for a canopy on the roof of the refurbished 6 Bevis Marks office building in central London. "It's architectural in so far as it's been through an approval process and tried and tested, and actually installed in a building. It's an approved product for use in the construction industry."

First architectural application of 3D printing Adrian Priestman 6 Bevis Marks dezeen
Shroud wire frame

Asked whether there are any other 3D printed building components currently approved for use in the construction industry, Priestman said: "Not that I am aware of. If you go to the offices of a major architect like Foster + Partners, they've got their own 3D-printing machine, but they're not actually using the material to perform a function within a building; they're using it as a modelling tool."

While many studios have been experimenting with 3D-printing architectural structures and even working towards printing whole houses, Priestman believes his is the first real architectural application of 3D-printing because it has been approved for use by a major construction firm. "There may be someone who has done an installation, but this is a building component that has to stand for fifteen or twenty years; as long as everything that has been warrantied on the building," he said.

First architectural application of 3D printing Adrian Priestman 6 Bevis Marks dezeen
Daigram showing shroud and steels in place

The 3D-printed sheaths were designed to surround a series of complex joints between columns and a web of arms that support the canopy's EFTE plastic roof. The components were subjected to rigorous environmental testing before being included in the warranty for the roof by EFTE specialist Vector Foiltec, which was responsible for the installation of the canopy.

The architect became involved in the project as a consultant after Vector Foiltec decided that cast steel nodes normally used in this scenario would not fulfil the practical or aesthetic requirements of this project. "They're not a hundred percent accurate and you can see the process left on the face of the steel," explained Priestman.

First architectural application of 3D printing Adrian Priestman 6 Bevis Marks dezeen
Exploded diagram showing shroud and steels

The casings he designed respond to the individual nature of each intersection and were modelled using 3D computer software. They were then printed in sections using a selective laser sintering process and applied to cover the unsightly joints. "It is a purely decorative finish which makes the steel look like it is a cast node but in effect it's not," said Priestman. "So if the shroud fell off the steelwork would still stay standing."

To prove to the client and the building contractor, Skanska, that the parts were suitable for this application, Priestman took samples to an accelerated testing facility. "We got it tested in 1000-mile-per-hour winds in wind for 2000 hours, extreme weather tested," he said. "Once I had done that, the product was approved by the big contractors for the building."

The architect says he is now working with Skanska's innovation team on other potential uses for 3D printing within the building industry. "I'm pushing now to find places to use [3D printing]. It's going to be driven from an engineering point of view," added Priestman. "How big can we go? How much of a structural element is it? Let's start putting it in the built environment."

  • mlk

    It’s a shame it is purely decorative covering. From the title I got the impression the thing will be a real structure.

  • Ben

    What is this “I am first to 3D print architecture” all about. By the way: “1000-mile-per-hour winds” that seems to be complete nonsense…

    • http://www.dezeen.com/ Dezeen Magazine

      Hi Ben,

      Apologies. This has been corrected.

      The product was tested in wind for 2000 hours.

      Kind regards,

      Grace/Dezeen

  • mb4design

    Nice to see a practical application for 3D printing technology. Seems perfectly suited to producing an element that is likely to have field variations.

  • madbarka

    Absolutely no mention of the architects who designed and conceived this project years before Adrian Priestman was involved. No recognition of the immense effort and struggle that the architects from Fletcher Priest put in to get this far. No credit is given where it is deserved most.

    • djnn24

      Agreed. I don’t think Dezeen have ever mentioned Fletcher Priest. I saw much of their work during work experience there and a lot of it is definitely worthy of being on Dezeen.

  • Guest

    Actually got to visit this building during work experience. It’s a shame they’re going to have to attach drain pipes to the structure rather than use the structure as the pipes. Silly building regs.

  • urB

    Being the first to do something doesn’t mean it is any good… And they must be the 100th pretending they are the first!

    • Dennis

      Wrong, 101st… I was the first, didn’t I mention that?

  • Steeevyo

    I’ll be the first architect to 3D print a house containing a 3D printer to rint the model of Sai house containing an even tinier 3D printer printing an even tinier model of the house etc. You get the picture. Mark my words!

  • Gregory Gilmour

    What about D-Shape? It’s printing structural building components already. I think might be an overblown claim!

  • Anna Eisbar

    The Egyptian pyramids were entirely 3D-printed by a machine called Human Workforce by adding layers of stone.

  • kennyb

    I really like this project. Great to see 3D printing evolving at such speed from models to actual construction! Great work.

  • Don’t Want A Virus

    When I click on “Priestman” I’m sent to some sketchy website. Hellooo?

  • http://www.dezeen.com/ Dezeen Magazine

    Hi,

    Thank you for pointing this out. We have removed the link.

    Kind regards,

    Ross/Dezeen