THE DESIGN AND ANALYSIS OF A MULTI-PERFORMANCE 3D PRINTED CONSTRUCTION UNIT: AN ALGORITHM TO UPGRADE THE STRUCTURAL, ENVIRONMENTAL AND ASSEMBLY PERFORMANCE IN MASONRY UNITS CONSTRUCTION
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This dissertation investigates the design and prototyping process of a new masonry unit. Drawing on the advantages offered by 3D printing industry, it seeks to improve the unit’s structural efficiency and at the same time experiment with the potential benefits of ABS plastic for its realization. The first step of this process was to formulate a parametric algorithm based on a construction unit that provided different data-sketches. Through a case-by-case analysis, the research process either used these data-sketches as the preliminary step of analysis, or used trial and error to experiment first-hand with 3D printing processes to delineate the scope of their implementation and to account for the design consequences that production techniques brought upon the final product. By such examinations, the aim is to propose a new structural system that forms a new tectonic language and offers constructability solutions for a new wall system. As the most inexpensive and available plastic, using ABS plastic for 3D printed masonry units is a promising endeavor, which all the more necessitates addressing its design challenges. To do so, this research conceived of a 3D printed unit as an arrangement of cells that combined different considerations such as handling the unit, its structural performance and modularity in a uniform, ergonomic and sustainable wall system. The key features of this assembly comprised of a waffle plate that attached the EPS panel to the slab, a sprayed EPS, the ABS plastic unit that had ties as a design element for EPS installation, an interlocking snap-fit joint that vertically fastened the units together, and a custom-designed dovetail joint for horizontal connections. The parametric algorithm modified and redefined individual cells in the corners to realize these connections. The final step of this process entailed a comprehensive comparison of the proposed wall system to alternative wall systems, namely a solid wall system, an ICF wall system, and a cavity wall system for thickness, weight and thermal performance. Using Rescheck software, I compared these wall systems to a base model set in Chicago. Ultimately, this research is a detailed elaboration of a problem-solving process that exploits the capabilities of parametric design beyond its common emphasis on creating new geometries, by means of which the proposed system offers practical solutions to the prevalent challenges in masonry unit construction.