A structural steel fabricator in London is teaming up with Cranfield University to use 3D printing to create steel connections
Steelo Ltd was originally set up by Polish aeronautical engineer Michael Krajewski as Struxteel Steelwork Management, before becoming Polsteel in 2011 and then Steelo at the end of 2017.
Krajewski said: “Full automation is our long-term objective, and thanks to our recent 3D printing project we are certain that it’s achievable.”
The company began a research project with Cranfield University in April 2018 to determine the possibility of printing structural steel beams.
“At first, we wanted to 3D print the whole steel beam,” explained Lina Alexaki, project leader at Steelo.
“However, we quickly discovered that our focus should be on 3D printing steel beam connections, using pre-cut beams,” Alexaki added.
Steelo has established a Master’s Degree thesis project and provided structural steel connection details and material for research purposes.
The company claims that its research has already established that 3D printing of structural steel connections is not only possible but could also save time and money for the industry.
Steel connections are currently hand welded.
Krajewski commented: “With fewer and fewer people willing to undertake hard, physical work such as welding, it is increasingly difficult to find skilled and trained professionals.
“We want to enable the industry to evolve from hand welding and believe that welders can evolve into 3D printer supervisors.”
Alexaki added: “Following the success of printing sample connections, we now want to focus on making the 3D printing process more cost and time efficient.
“The next stage focuses on optimising the surface and geometry of the connection.”