TU Delft and Materialise Upgrade Acoustics with AM’s Freedom of Design

2 min read

Close-up view of 3D-printed acoustics panels

We’ve all been there — experiencing the unpleasant, loud noises that come with large, open, multi-use spaces. This discomfort is amplified by specific, irritating frequencies. Sometimes it feels as if you can’t even hear yourself think.

It’s to solve this issue that the architecture department at TU Delft turned to the help of a user committee consisting of companies from multiple industries, including Materialise for additive manufacturing (AM). Together, the team worked on a research project funded by Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research to develop a solution that improves the acoustics in these areas, such as concert halls or sports arenas, to enhance visitors’ auditory experiences.

Woman holding up a 3D-printed acoustic panel
The TU Delft team decided to use 3D printing to construct the acoustics panels.

In order to create this solution, the TU Delft team wanted to create panels that could be placed inside rooms where this level of noise is reached to block these bothersome frequencies and echoes. They knew they wanted to achieve this acoustic advancement with expertise from various industries, so Materialise stepped in to help with the manufacturing aspect.

As 3D printing experts, we are there to empower our customers to build their solutions. When we work with others in collaborations such as this one, it’s our mission to ensure that the project incorporates the full value of AM to accomplish its goal.

— Toon Roels, Director Process Engineering and Quality, Materialise

Incorporating AM’s full value

For this project, the TU Delft team chose 3D printing as the manufacturing method because of its freedom of design. They wanted a dynamic structure with organic geometries that not only targeted bothersome frequencies but were also aesthetically pleasing.

“We use additive manufacturing because of its potential to produce a large variety of complex shapes,” explains Michela Turrin, Associate Professor of Design Informatics at TU Delft. “It gives a lot of freedom in the complexity of the geometry, but it also enables production to be made in unique pieces that are not necessarily based on industrial repetition.”

3D printing isn’t held back by the same constraints as traditional manufacturing methods, such as limited shape possibilities which require extensive assembly. With the digital design files, Laser Sintering was a cost-effective way to create puzzle piece-like parts that could later be assembled quickly and easily to construct the panel — all while maintaining an attractive appearance.

At Materialise, we’re always open to co-create, and when projects such as this come our way, we are happy to share our expertise, collaborate on new solutions, and learn together. Watch this video to find out even more about this acoustics challenge the TU Delft team embarked on and how Materialise contributed.

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