Oct 16, 2015 | By Kira

Amsterdam is a world-renowned capital city, as famous for its 17th century architecture and ubiquitous fairy-tale canals as it is for its progressive culture and technology-driven research institutes. It's Silicon Valley meets Old-World Europe, in a way that could only exist in this peaceful, flat, and bicycle-crazy corner of the Earth. In an unprecedented project that beautifully encapsulates both the technology of the future and the city’s historic past, Dutch startup MX3D will today begin construction of the world’s first functional 3D printed steel bridge, to eventually be placed in the city’s renowned Red Light District. Visitors can track the ongoing construction every Friday at the building site in the city’s north end and witness 3D printing history in the process.

MX3D’s unique, six-axis 3D printing technique with advanced welding tools and specialized Autodesk software does away with the constraints of typical three-axis setups, allowing them to print metal, plastic and resin in mid-air without the need for support structures. They can create strong, complex structures out of affordable and sustainable materials with virtually no size or shape restrictions. According to the team, printing a life-size, functional bridge was the obvious way to go to show off the cutting-edge technology they had created.

Inspired by a trip to San Francisco and designed by MX3D’s in-house designer Joris Laarman, the 3D printed bridge will feature the same kind of intricate and ornate details that appear on its 17th-century predecessors, which greatly contribute to Amsterdam’s picturesque and romantic ambiance. The ultimate goal is to show the possibilities of 3D printing within the construction industry, changing how we perceive of traditional building methods.

While the bridge will eventually be placed over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in the Red Light District, due to the immense amount of pedestrian and tourist traffic, on-site construction was out of the question. Instead, they are using a construction site at the old NDSM shipping dock in the north of the city, where visitor’s can stop by once a week to check on the progress. Construction is expected to last from three to four months, after which it will be moved to the more tourist-friendly spot. According to CTO Tim Geurtjens, the Red Light District was chosen because it is central, highly-visible, and a historically important area of the city, however they seem to have their eyes set on even bigger goals: “We could immediately lay a bridge over the River Ij, but let’s try it first on a slightly smaller place,” he said, referring to one of the largest bodies of water in the city.

Along with MX3D, partners of the project include TU Delft, the City of Amsterdam, Autodesk, and Dutch construction company Heijmans. The MX3D 3D printed steel bridge is an exciting development, and one that fits perfectly within the city’s existing culture and aesthetic. It’s also yet another attraction to be added to the already lengthy list of reasons to visit this beautiful, history, and technologically progressive city.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Duke wrote at 10/17/2015 11:54:27 PM:

I guess they finally realized that it's basically impossible to stick a 500 kg robot on a fragile printed latticework.

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