MX3D Completes The World’s First 3D Printed Steel Bridge

The bridge is scheduled to be installed in 2019, where it will span across Oudezijds Achterburgwal, one of the oldest and most famous canals of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

MX3D is 3D printing a fully functional stainless steel bridge to cross one of the oldest and most famous canals in the centre of Amsterdam, the Oudezijds Achterburgwal. They have equipped typical industrial robots with purpose-built tools and develop the software to control them. This unique approach has allowed them to 3D print strong, complex and graceful structures out of metal. The goal of the MX3D Bridge project is to showcase the potential applications of our multi-axis 3D printing technology.

The span measures 12.5m in length and 6.3m in width. Image © Joris Laarman Lab.

The Bridge is designed by Joris Laarman Lab,  Arup is the lead structural engineer, ArcelorMittal provides the metallurgical expertise, Autodesk assists with their knowledge on digital production tools, Heijmans is our construction expert, Lenovo supports us with computational hardware,  ABB is the robotics specialist, Air Liquide & Oerlikon know everything about welding and lastly, Plymovent protects the air our employees breath whilst AMS and TU Delft do invaluable research. Gemeente Amsterdam is the first customer of our collaborative bridge building department.

Image © Joris Laarman Lab.

A team from The Alan Turing Institute is responsible for designing and installing a sensor network on the bridge. These sensors will collect structural measurements such as strain, displacement and vibration, and will measure environmental factors such as air quality and temperature, enabling engineers to measure the bridge’s health in real time and monitor how it changes over its lifespan. This data will also allow MX3D to “teach” the bridge to understand what is happening on it, how many people are crossing it and how quickly.

Image © Joris Laarman Lab.

The data from the sensors will be input into a ‘digital twin’ of the bridge, a living computer model that will reflect the physical bridge with growing accuracy in real time as the data comes in. The performance and behaviour of the physical bridge can be tested against its digital twin, which will provide valuable insights to inform designs for future 3D printed metallic structures. It will also enable the current 3D bridge to be modified to suit any required changes in use, ensuring it is safe for pedestrians under all conditions.

You can find out more about MX3D here.

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