In what is being heralded as the beginning of a new era in architecture and enhanced manufacturing, MX3D, an innovative Dutch R&D startup, has unveiled the very first robotically 3D-printed stainless-steel bridge, opening the door to unlimited opportunities for engineers and architects. Three years ago, Amsterdam-based MX3D started working on this dream project and claimed that they would construct a steel bridge with 3D printing technology. Deemed almost impossible at the time, the bridge is now a reality.
Joris Laarman Lab designed this 12.5 mile bridge which is made of a totally unique kind of steel developed specifically for 3D printing. The bridge’s installation will take place in the famous red-light district in the middle of Amsterdam where it will span one of oldest canals in the city. According to Joris Laarman, this revolutionary bridge will connect the historic past of city with futuristic technology. Six months of effort using 4, 6-axis robots, nearly 683 miles of steel wire and almost 10,000 lbs of steel were used to construct the bridge. At 20 feet wide and 41 feet long, the graceful curves of the bridge’s design are the perfect demonstration of the potential applications for this type of advanced 3D printing technology.
The integrity of the bridge will be tested by the most qualified engineers and designers in the world. Final touches will be added to the bridge such as a coating to protect it from the elements. Engineers will also install smart sensors so that the health and condition of bridge can be monitored in real time. The movement, walking speed and weight of people and air quality will be observed to monitor the performance of the bridge and to make improvements for future designs accordingly. These sensors will allow the engineers to gather accurate, real-time data to ensure safety and structural integrity of the bridge.
According to MX3D, the bridge is the culmination of a long process of designing, programming, testing and engineering, not to mention the software experts, craftsmen and engineers of MX3D. When announcing the bridge’s completion, MX3D thanked their partners for their continuous support including the Amsterdam City Council, AMS, TU Delft, Lenovo, Within, STV, ABB Robotics, Air Liquide, Arcelor Mittal, Hejimans and Autodesk.
MX3D said the bridge installation will be complete by October 2018. It will be installed on the Oudezijds-Achterburgwal canal once renovations of the canal are completed.