Steel 3D printing for structures

An explorative study on the tear-out strength of a pin or bolt in a Wire and Arc Additively Manufactured carbon steel plate

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Additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, is emerging as a technology for different applications made of steel. It is expected that in the coming years the construction industry will benefit from the free and lightweight forms that can be fabricated and the possible material savings. A few experimental results of 3D printed stainless steel are published, while no data is available on the material properties of wire and arc additively manufactured (WAAM) low carbon steel nor on specific connections. Carbon steel is widely applied in the construction industry and is less expensive, compared to other types of steel, as stainless, which was investigated for WAAM in other studies, at the TU Delft and abroad. Therefore, WAAM low carbon steel plates with thicknesses of 3 and 6 mm, produced by the company MX3D, were investigated thoroughly in this research. Tensile coupon tests were performed to determine the strength, stiffness and ultimate strain. The surface roughness, effective thickness and the influence of the thickness and the printing direction on the material properties were investigated by experiments and an evaluation of 3D scanning and Digital Image Correlation (DIC). The Archimedes’ principle was used to establish an effective thickness. The experiments were conceived to predict the tear-out failure behaviour of 3D printed plates. This is one of the basic failure modes in bolted connections. The conducted experiments provide the necessary evidence for the behaviour of single bolts and pins that interact with the WAAM material. A design formula for bolted and pinned connections is proposed based on experimental results. The results of the tensile and tear-out tests were compared with conventionally produced carbon steel and existing findings on WAAM stainless steel. The influence of the end distance of a double lap bolted connection is evaluated by comparing the experimental results with the existing standards and studies on rolled carbon steel. This research was performed to assess the applicability of current design standards for conventionally produced carbon steel to WAAM low carbon steel connections. The reliability of this method was checked by a statistical analysis. A new design factor for the tear-out strength of single bolts and pins in a WAAM low carbon steel plate is recommended. This factor reduces the design resistance of a tear-out connection and includes the ultimate tensile strength of the WAAM low carbon steel, the end distance, effective thickness of the plate and printing direction, compared to the applied force. The reduction factors that originate from the effective thickness determination and that reduce the ultimate tensile strength due to the surface roughness effect have to be incorporated for WAAM material as well. The starting hypothesis was confirmed by the investigation and following is concluded: WAAM carbon steel is a suitable material for structural applications, due to its lower costs and higher stiffness compared to the stainless steel alternatives. The experimental results of this research are meant to be used for design purposes and as input for Finite Element Modelling, so the resistance of more complex geometries can be studied accordingly. It is expected that with topology optimisation (TO) of connections, considering the printing direction, and the consequential material efficiency, full potential of 3D printing can be yielded for the manufacturing of structural parts.