Amsterdam’s MX3D studio are the people responsible for creating this bridge. Their first goal was to complete it by the end of 2017, then they changed that to October of 2018. But they have completed the bridge now and it is in operation over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal near Amsterdam. Check the video link at the top of this article to see what it looks like. Quite nice, actually.
It’s built in layers of steel. A steel deck completes it. The robots that built it built their own support structure as they went along, which was incorporated into the finished structure of the bridge. The bridge is a pedestrian bridge, 41 ft long and 20 feet wide. It took 4 robots 6 months to print it. The MX3D company used modified, 6 axis, industrial robots because they can move their arms in so many directions, can move around the work being printed. This means they can print any shape or size object desired. Could probably build another Sears Tower.
The company partnered with the city of Amsterdam, Arup and Imperial College London to create a new standard of safety for these 3D construction projects. Sensors were attached to the bridge to provide constant, real-time data about what’s going on with the bridge. The safety measurements are simultaneously tested on a digital version of the structure, which let engineers see what design adjustments they’ll need for the future.
The 3D method of building this bridge is already providing insight for further possibilities for this technology. The construction, maritime and aviation industries can use this to replace their need for casts of one-off pieces for their building projects, which will improve their money and resource savings and improve worker safety in industries requiring heavy physical and mechanical labor.
This technology is also being considered in another new way to build bridges, using plastic instead of steel. This will make it unnecessary to use heavy machines to build it. This can make previously inaccessible places reachable now. It will depend on the structure of the plastic bridge, but if furniture made out of cardboard can be built to hold the weight of several people, then a plastic bridge can also be built to do that. Can you imagine steps being 3D printed up the side of the Matterhorn? I say go for it.