3D Printed Steel Bridge

Dutch robotics company MX3D has completed the 3D printing of a steel bridge, which will be installed across a canal in Amsterdam next year. Designer Joris Laarman worked with the robotic manufacturing technology start-up to build the 12-metre-long pedestrian bridge. The structure has been constructed by robots from layers of molten steel, its span was completed earlier this year. Now its deck has been built, marking the final stage in the construction process. Six-axis robots built the six-metre-wide structure from layers of molten steel, which involved programming robotic arms to control large-scale welding machines.

The ambitious project has gone through several iterations in its development to strengthen the structure against potential boats collisions and to adhere to the local council’s regulations. The project, which is described as the world’s first 3D-printed bridge, is expected to be installed on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal in Amsterdam’s red-light district once the renovation of the canal is complete by mid-2019″.

To add to its high-tech design, mathematicians from The Alan Turing Institute and engineers at Arup worked with MX3D to create a smart sensor network on the bridge. The sensors are designed to record the bridge’s performance, collecting data such as strain, rotation, load, displacement and vibration. The data will be used to show how many people are crossing the bridge and at what speed, structural integrity and the surrounding environment. This information will also be input into a “digital twin” of the bridge – a computer model that responds to the data as it is collected in real time.