Six-axis robots used to form the six-metre-wide structure from layers of molten steel
The world’s first 3D-printed steel bridge has been completed by MX3D, mathematicians from The Alan Turing Institute and Arup. The bridge is now scheduled to be installed across a canal in Amsterdam’s De Wallen district in 2019.
According to a report by 3ders.org, Dutch designer Joris Laarman has been working with robotic manufacturing start-up MX3D since 2015 to build the 12m long pedestrian bridge. The bridge was 3D printed at a MX3D facility outside of Amsterdam, before being shipped into the company’s main workshop in the north of the city.
“We hope it will be installed in summer. We just started the permit process as we have now all the positive results from the tests. The city just started the renovations work on the canal wall we have been waiting for two years. This work could be done in six months,” a MX3D spokesperson said.
According to the report, MX3D initially planned to 3D-print the bridge in place (onsite) using custom robotic 3D printing arms suspended over the canal to build the supporting structures underneath and move across gradually. However, the firm is said to have abandoned this approach due to concerns about control over the environment and interference from pedestrians.
The bridge is said to feature sensors that will relay information back to designers and engineers. The smart bridge will monitor its own health, record the number of people using it as well as their speed, and take measurements of factors such as weight dispersion and air quality.
A digital bridge model will also be created from the gathered data, allowing future designs to be compared and adapted accordingly. The designers and engineers say their goal is to have robots that can one day autonomously build infrastructure without the help of humans.