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3D printed steel bridge to be completed in Netherlands

3D printed steel bridge to be completed in Netherlands

Amsterdam-based firm MX3D have completed an exciting new project, thanks to designer Joris Laarmen and his multidisciplinary team. Using 3D printing technology, they have created a metal bridge that crosses the city’s oldest canal, the Oudezijds Achterburgwal.

Measuring forty feet in length and over twenty feet wide, the bridge was built using digital fabrication created by MX3D. The 3D printing process was designed to create a ‘smart’ structure that tests the feasibility of robots printing bridges without human intervention, albeit to a minor extent.

Complex and graceful

Speaking about the project, MX3D stated:

“We equip typical industrial robots with purpose-built tools and develop the software to control them. The unique approach allows us to 3D print strong, complex and graceful structures out of metal. The goal of the MX3D Bridge project is to showcase the potential applications of our multi-axis 3D printing technology.”

MX3D is trying to revolutionise how robots build structures, using a mixture of freedom of movement, waste reduction and adaptable software. It made sense to team up with Laarmens; his work is a mixture of artistic design and bleeding edge digital technology, blurring art, science, tech and industrial innovation. His work has been on display at museums in ten countries - including the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMa).

Concerning the project, Laarmen said:

“Over the years the work we do in the Lab has become ever more influenced by technology. We are always trying to push the limits of our profession by developing new technology. Our metal printers originated from the desire to be able to print 3-D objects that are larger than the box of a 3-D printer. We wanted to print large-scale objects that could be used effectively.”

Timescales

It took six months and 4 robots to print the almost five-ton bridge, using minimal human input. The monitoring of the bridge will be a joint venture with The Alan Turing Institute. Several smart sensors will be placed across the bridge to measure structural issues, such as vibrations, strain, displacement, air quality and temperature. Engineers will be able to use this data to create a ‘digital twin’ of the bridge. This way, they can monitor any changes and determine how best to enact any repairs, should they become necessary. The bridge will undergo further structural testing before it is finally installed October 2019.

Other examples

This isn’t the first 3D printed structure created in the Netherlands. Back in 2016, DUS Architects 3D printed a micro-home in Amsterdam, primarily out of durable plastics that could be broken down and repurposed if needed. Each room was printed individually, part by part, and assembled into one house on-site.

As technology develops and AI software becomes more advanced, modern construction will become cheaper, faster, and more environmentally friendly.

Photo by jorislaarman.com

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