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Engineers print first 3D-printed cycling bridge

Engineers print first 3D-printed cycling bridge

The world’s first concrete printed bicycle bridge is being printed by engineers from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. The bridge will be built next to the Lady of Gemert statue, a local landmark. Engineers have been working on the bridge for the past week, using a build platform and robotics.

The first 3D-printed concrete bicycle bridge

The finished bridge will be the first 3D-printed bicycle bridge to be built with reinforced concrete. The finished bridge consist of over 800 layers of concrete and will be 8 meters in length.  Researchers have already tested a smaller scale model of the bridge, after some critics feared that the 3D-printed bridge would not be durable or strong enough for everyday use. The researchers found that the bridge would withstand the strain and have stated that a real-life 3D printed concrete cycling bridge could easily hold the weight of its users.

What’s so special about the process behind this new endeavour? Engadget explore in their post below:

“As for why this process is an improvement over standard concrete techniques, printing a bridge will use far less concrete than pouring it into molds. There's an environmental impact here, as well -- the production of concrete cement releases CO2, so cutting down on those emissions is worth noting. There's also more freedom of design, as a 3D-printer can fabricate shapes that are much harder to produce with a mold.”

Stainless steel 3D-printed bridge

News of the first 3D-printed concrete bicycle bridge has been followed by the first 3D-printed foot bridge to be made from stainless steel. The bridge is to be printed by the Alan Turing Institute, led by Professor Mark Girolami, Chair of Statistics at the Department of Mathematics at Imperial College London. Working in tandem with 3D printing company MX3D, the team is set to finish the bridge by 2018, with design and construction already underway. The bridge will be built over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in central Amsterdam.

Designed with sensors

A vast sensor network is to be installed in the bridge by the team of experts working on the bridge. The sensors will enable the team to measure the bridge’s efficiency and monitor any developments during its lifespan. The sensors are designed to record and measure a number of different factors, including vibration, displacement and strain. The sensors will also be able to measure environmental factors, like the quality of the air. The recorded data will be fed into a ‘digital twin’ of the bridge by the Steel Structures group in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the university.

The bridge is the first of its kind, being the first to record and read important data that impacts a bridge’s use. Project leader Professor Girolami hopes that the bridge will revolutionise bridge design and construction.

Advancing bridge design and construction

3D printing is helping to advance bridge structures in new and exciting ways, with the first ever 3D-printed concrete bicycle bridge and the first stainless steel 3D-printed bridge to be crafted with sensors. This is clearly a brave new world in construction.

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