Queen Máxima and MX3D open Amsterdam’s first 3D printed steel bridge
With the help of Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands, Máxima, Dutch supplier of 3D printing technology MX3D unveiled the country’s first 3D printed stainless steel bridge in the heart of Amsterdam.
In preparation since 2015, the sci-fi ‘MX3D Bridge’ was manufactured using the company’s signature Wire Arc (WAAM) additive manufacturing technology, a form of directed energy deposition based on an arm. robotics (DED). The 12.2m long structure has now been placed on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, one of the city’s oldest red light district canals, and is ready for use by pedestrians and cyclists.
The bridge was designed by Joris Laarman Laboratory, while the civil engineering company Arup assumed the role of chief engineer. Funding by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation was also integral to the completion of the project, as well as additional efforts from industry leaders such as ABB, Liquid air, ArcelorMittal, Autodesk, AMS Institute, and Lenovo.
Tim Geurtjens, co-founder of MX3D, said: “A few years ago we had the idea to use the robotic metal 3D printers that we developed to print a full-size functional steel bridge. With the excitement of this crazy idea, we also realized that there was no way we could achieve it on our own. For a complex and crazy project like this to be successful, it takes a lot of smart and enthusiastic people.
6000 kg of stainless steel
MX3D’s proprietary WAAM software technology is designed to integrate with industrial robots and standard power sources, turning them into metallic 3D printers. With the aim of showcasing this technology and exploring how digital tools can shape the architectural world, MX3D 3D printed the bridge between 2017 and 2018.
The project involved the use of four WAAM industrial robots working in unison to 3D print over 6,000 kg of stainless steel. Since its installation in the city, the MX3D bridge has obtained a two-year permit from the city of Amsterdam. The design itself was created using generative design and topology optimization tools, resulting in the final nature-inspired shape seen today.
Gijs van der Velden, CEO and co-founder of MX3D, adds: “When we started with the concept, the bridge was over 100 times bigger than any 3D printed part of metal, and now it is finished, I still have good reason to believe that the bridge will remain the largest printed metal object for years to come. The bridge is just the beginning of our technology.
A living laboratory in Amsterdam
Although it is not so obvious from a distance, the 3D printed bridge is also designed to be a “living laboratory”. With the help of The Alan Turing Institute (the Turing), Arup, Autodesk, FORCE technology, and the University of Twente, MX3D was able to integrate a vast network of intelligent sensors into its 3D printed bridge, allowing the creation of a digital twin.
Real-time data from the sensor network will be used to drive a city of Amsterdam-led research project, in which the role of IoT systems in the built environment will be explored. Structural and environmental measurements such as deformation, rotation, load, displacement, vibration, air quality and temperature will also be used by engineers to monitor the health and changes of the bridge during its life. lifetime.
Alex Tessier, Principal Investigator at Autodesk, concludes: “The extension of our partnership with MX3D has provided Autodesk with a platform to test and develop our IoT digital twin technologies to help MX3D make its bridge the most intelligent structure. advanced in the world in its design, creation and use. This project with MX3D has assembled an incredible team of experts and together we explore the cutting edge of smart infrastructure and what it means for sustainability and growth in our cities and beyond.
The year 2021 has set several milestones for 3D printed infrastructures. Earlier this month, China’s first 3D printed retractable bridge was unveiled in Shanghai, and it is capable of deploying in less than a minute. Weighing just 850kg and measuring 9m in length, the Bluetooth-controlled bridge is located in the city’s Wisdom Bay Innovation Park and features 36 3D printed triangular panels.
Elsewhere, in April, construction companies BAM and Weber Beamix started building the world’s longest 3D printed concrete pedestrian bridge in the Netherlands. Simply named “The Bridge Project”, the initiative is sponsored by Rijkswaterstaat (the Dutch Directorate General for Public Works and Water Management), and measures an impressive 29.5 m (almost 97 feet) in length.
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The image shown shows Queen Máxima opening the MX3D Bridge in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Photo by Jan de Groen.