Conference Paper

Voxelbeam: Re-Fabricating a Structural Beam

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Voxelbeam explores precedents in the optimization of architectural structures, namely the Sydney Opera house Arup beam. The authors research three areas crucial to conceiving an innovative contemporary reinterpretation of the beam: A shift in structural analysis techniques from analytical to numerical models such as topology optimization, the fundamental differences between digital and analog representations of structural forces, and the translation of structural analysis data into methods for digital fabrication. The research aims to re-contextualize the structural beam within contemporary digital platforms, explores the architectural implications of topology optimization , and proposes two fabrication strategies based on the analysis results-including automated off-site pre-casting and multi-material 3d printing.

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This paper demonstrates an integrated computational design and fabrication workflow, implemented in actual construction scale, in order to test its feasibility towards a productive and customizable manufacturing process. The project suggests the computational development and the semi-automated fabrication of a free-form shell structure that consists of customized concrete members. The development process is based on two pillars of investigation that are bi-directionally connected; the computational design optimization and the fabrication. The first part of investigation refers to the form-finding of the overall shell structure, as well as its structural members by using topology optimization principles. The second part deals with the development of a reconfigurable modular formwork, which adapts to all shape alternations of the structural components, enabling their effective fabrication by using a single mechanism. Within this framework, decisions taken in the optimization stage are evaluated based on limitations and potentials of the suggested formwork, whose reconfigurability influences fabrication outcomes and vice versa.
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Restoring normal function and appearance after massive facial injuries with bone loss is an important unsolved problem in surgery. An important limitation of the current methods is heuristic ad hoc design of bone replacements by the operating surgeon at the time of surgery. This problem might be addressed by incorporating a computational method known as topological optimization into routine surgical planning. We tested the feasibility of using a multiresolution three-dimensional topological optimization to design replacements for massive midface injuries with bone loss. The final solution to meet functional requirements may be shaped differently than the natural human bone but be optimized for functional needs sufficient to support full restoration using a combination of soft tissue repair and synthetic prosthetics. Topological optimization for designing facial bone tissue replacements might improve current clinical methods and provide essential enabling technology to translate generic bone tissue engineering methods into specific solutions for individual patients.
Optimal shape design of structural elements based on boundary variations results in final designs that are topologically equivalent to the initial choice of design, and general, stable computational schemes for this approach often require some kind of remeshing of the finite element approximation of the analysis problem. This paper presents a methodology for optimal shape design where both these drawbacks can be avoided. The method is related to modern production techniques and consists of computing the optimal distribution in space of an anisotropic material that is constructed by introducing an infimum of periodically distributed small holes in a given homogeneous, isotropic material, with the requirement that the resulting structure can carry the given loads as well as satisfy other design requirements. The computation of effective material properties for the anisotropic material is carried out using the method of homogenization. Computational results are presented and compared with results obtained by boundary variations.
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Liu, K. and Tovar, A.: 2014, An efficient 3d topology optimization code written in matlab, Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization (2014) pages 1-22 doi:10.1007/s00158-014-1107-x. URL
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Michalatos, P. and Payne A.: 2012, Printing material distributions, White Paper sponsored by Objet Technologies.
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