World’s first 3D-Printed Stainless Steel bridge finally installed over Dutch canal

MX3D has finally installed world’s first 3D-printed stainless steel bridge over a canal in Amsterdam. It measures a length of 12.2m and a width of 6.3m. The Queen of Netherland has officially opened the 3D-printed bridge for general public. The bridge design is eye-catching and unique. There are many hidden sensors installed inside the bridge to collect the data on structural integrity and public behavior and many other things.

The project was designed by Joris Laarman Lab with Arup providing engineering services and many others like ABB, Air Liquide, ArcelorMittal, Autodesk, AMS Institute and Lenovo. The original plan was to build the bridge on site but this was impossible due to safety issue so it was built in a factory.

It took only 6 month to print the 3D-printed bridge and was to ready to installed in 2018 but delayed as canal walls were being refurbished. It was transported to the site through boat and installed with the help of crane. The bridge gets the permit of only two years to remain in the place.

The 3D-printed concrete project extruded and cement-like mixture out of nozzle in layers, so it involved the complex design of the bridge with four robots welding layers of hot metal using standard welding wire and gas together. Total stainless steel used in the project weighs 6000 kg.

“Basically our M1 metal AM system is a standard welding robot and a custom set of sensors,” MX3D CEO Gijs van der Velden tells New Atlas. “We developed the CAM and data management software to organize the welding process in such a way that it becomes suitable for layer by layer deposition as opposed to connecting two pieces of metal together.

“We use standard welding wires and gas. All that allows us to use a lot of the existing welding science, hence the material properties of the end parts created with our technology are excellent. As this is built on technologies already in use in most industrial companies the adoption process is easy, skills to operate are in house and operational regulations are identical to those that apply to welding.”

The series of sensors installed on the bridge collect data of structural strain, rotation, load, displacement and vibration. These sensors also read data on environmental factors like air quality and temperature. All collected data through sensors is fed into a computer model of the bridge(called digital twin) which helps the engineer to check the structural status of the 3D-printed bridge on real time basis. This system also enables bridge to count how many people are crossing it and how quickly, and more.


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