The ETFE plastic roof canopy of the 6 Bevis Marks building in London features a decorative sheath that is the world’s first 3D-printed component approved for use in the construction industry, according to the canopy’s designer Adrian Priestman. Unlike most architecture firms who use 3D printing simply as a modeling tool, Priestman claims that his sheaths are the first to be 3D-printed for a specific use. The parts serve as complex joints between the building’s columns and the arms of its canopy.
Adrian Priestman became involved with the project after project consultant Vector Foiltec decided that conventional steel nodes would not be aesthetically suitable. The architect modeled the new component using 3D computer software and printed it in sections using a selective laser sintering process. The steel looks like it is a cast node although it was manufactured in pieces. The shroud is a purely decorative element that has no impact on the structural integrity of the canopy.
The components were tested in 1000 mile per hour winds and extreme weather before they were approved by the client and building contractor, Skanska. The architect has continued working with Skanska on further implementing 3D technology in the construction industry.