3D printing a steel bridge

3D printing a steel bridge

22 Jun 2015
MX3D is an R&D startup based in the Netherlands that has developed a groundbreaking additive manufacturing method. The company says they can 3D print metals and resin in mid-air, without the need for support structures. With their MX3D Bridge project the company hopes to showcase how digital fabrication is entering the world of large scale, functional objects made of durable materials.
 
In 2014, MX3D equipped an industrial robot with an advanced welding machine and developed software to control it, allowing 3D printing of strong, complex structures out of sustainable material (metals, resin) in virtually any size or shape. The company is now ready to attempt to 3D print the first fully functional steel bridge in the world and to put their revolutionary technology to the test.
 
The bridge will be designed by Joris Laarman. That process using new Autodesk software will be a research project in itself. It will sync with the technical development and take into account the location in Amsterdam. The project is a collaboration between MX3D, design software company Autodesk, construction company Heijmans and many others.
 
Joris Laarman, designer: "I strongly believe in the future of digital production and local production, in "the new craft". This bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form. The symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor to connect the technology of the future with the old city, in a way that brings out the best of both worlds."
 
The construction will begin in September 2015 and MX3D and the City of Amsterdam will announce the exact location of the bridge soon.
 
MX3D's engineers, craftsmen and software experts bring together digital technology, robotics and traditional industrial production in the MX3D Bridge project; they research the construction site of the future, test and share their knowledge within an AMS-3D Building FieldLab.
 
Tim Geurtjens, CTO MX3D: "What distinguishes our technology from traditional 3D printing methods is that we work according to the 'Printing Outside the box' principle. By printing with 6-axis industrial robots, we are no longer limited to a square box in which everything happens. Printing a functional, life-size bridge is of course the ideal way to showcase the endless possibilities of this technique."
 
Source and top image: MX3D