Architectural Wonder – Amsterdam’s Planned 3D Printed Bridge

A Dutch company MX3D is about to take additive manufacturing to a whole new level, with their plans to design and build a 3D printed bridge, which is a world first.

MX3D is planning to start work on the bridge in September, using robot printers that can draw steel structures in 3D. The pedestrian bridge will be printed over a canal in the centre of Amsterdam, though they are still in negotiations about its exact positioning.

Image source: Per Salomonsson

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Walking on water…

What’s even more amazing about this project is that the plan involves using robotic arm printers, which will ‘walk’ across the canal and essentially print the support structure as it goes. This means there will be no need for scaffolding.

The specially designed robotic arms will heat prepare the metals and then weld them to the structure inch by inch using a computer programme.

Describing the technology, Joris Laarman, the Bridge Architect and Designer said ‘the underlying principle is straightforward. It’s just the process of connecting a very advanced welding machine to an industrial strength robot arm‘.

The company plans to use its in-house designed software to instruct the machinery, which allows them to print a variety of metal parts including complex shapes. The project will also make use of the Heijmans Construction Company and Autodesk software.

Revolutionising the world of construction

Up until now, the robotic arm technology has only been used to print small metal structures. The bridge in Amsterdam is the company’s first large scale foray into 3D printed technology, but they have high hopes that it’s going to revolutionise the world of construction.

If successful, this type of technology could be rolled out across construction sites and used to carry out a variety of tasks including dangerous work (e.g. tasks at height), which would reduce risks to workers.

The technology could also save companies a considerable amount of time in creating new structures, as it removes the need for scaffolding, instead printing its own support.

2017 completion date

The designers at MX3D are currently in talks with the local council (who are fully supporting the project) to find a suitable bridge location. It is hoped that the project will be completed by the summer of 2017.

With examples like this, it’s clear that 3D printing has the potential to completely revolutionise the world around us, working to print both metal structures of all shapes and sizes.

We look forward to seeing how this project in Amsterdam develops. If you have any questions about 3D metal printing please get in touch with us here at SPI Lasers.

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