World’s first 3D-printed steel bridge opens in Amsterdam

World’s first 3D-printed steel bridge opens in Amsterdam

The first ever 3D-printed steel bridge has opened in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It had been created by robotic arms using welding torches to deposit the structure of the bridge layer by layer, and is constructed of 4500 kilograms of stainless.

The 12-metre-long MX3D Bridge was built by four commercially available professional robots and took half a year to print. The structure was transported to its location over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in central Amsterdam last week and is now available to pedestrians and cyclists.

More than a dozen sensors mounted on the bridge following the printing was completed will monitor strain, movement, vibration and temperature across the structure as persons pass over it and the elements changes. This data will be fed right into a digital style of the bridge.

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Engineers will use this model to review the properties of the initial material and can employ machine understanding how to spot any trends in the info that could indicate maintenance or modification is essential. They also hope it will help designers know how 3D-printed steel might be used for larger and more complex building projects.

Mark Girolami at the University of Cambridge, who’s focusing on the digital model with a team at the Alan Turing Institute in London, says that investigations into  bridge failures often reveal deterioration that was missed. Constant data feedback might have been in a position to prevent these failures by giving an early on warning, he says.

Girolami says that early indications for the effectiveness of 3D-printed steel are positive. “Among the things that people found is that the strength characteristics are reliant on the orientation of the printing. But what was in a few sense surprising was that the baseline strength was what you would expect of just rolled steel, and it actually increased in a few directions.”

More on these topics:

  • engineering
  • 3D printing

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