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

Saturday,17 July 2021 10:53 PM IST

Yashashree Malpathak


In Amsterdam, Netherlands, the world's first 3D-printed steel bridge has opened over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal. It is made of 4500 kilos of stainless steel and was built by robotic arms using welding torches to deposit the construction of the bridge layer by layer.

This is the world's first 3D-printed steel structure, and it is a 'living laboratory' bridge produced by the Dutch 3D-printing company MX3D in collaboration with Imperial College London. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands unveiled it in Amsterdam on 15th July 2021. The 12-meter-long bridge took six months to print and was made by four commercially available industrial robots. Last week, the structure was moved to its current site above the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in central Amsterdam, and it is now open to pedestrians and bicycles.

More than a dozen sensors will be placed on the bridge to monitor strain, movement, vibration, and temperature across the structure as people pass over the bridge and the weather changes. This information will be fed into the digital model of the bridge. Researchers and engineers will be able to measure the bridge's 'health' in real-time, watch its performance and lifespan, and understand how the public interacts with 3D-printed infrastructure with the data collected and stored in a computerized version of the bridge.

The development of this new technology for the building industry is considered to offer enormous future potential in terms of aesthetics and highly optimized and efficient design with reduced material utilization. Additive Manufacturing (AM), often known as 3D printing, is a manufacturing technique in which material is built up in successive layers to construct free-form geometries. Additive Manufacturing can selectively place material where it is structurally required, which increases design freedom while minimizing material usage and is something metallic structural prismatic components that comprise buildings and bridges cannot.

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