World’s first 3D printed steel bridge completed in Amsterdam
Although Amsterdam is full of canals – the Venice of the North has 160 – they are outnumbered by the 1,700 bridges in the Dutch capital.
Most of these bridges are simple, utilitarian structures that few people notice. But the city also has many spans, some of which were built centuries ago, which are beautiful and even beautiful. https://www.aperturetours.com/blog/2019/bridges-of-amsterdam
The stock of eye-catching bridges increased by one recently, when a 12-meter 3D printed steel pedestrian bridge opened in Amsterdam.
The completion of the bridge was a big enough deal in the Netherlands that Queen Maxima attended the ceremony, where she was assisted in her duties by a ribbon cutter robot.
The MX3D Bridge, which has a raw steel finish, crosses a narrow canal in Amsterdam’s central red light district.
The structure is made of 4,500 kilograms of stainless steel, which was 3D printed by robots in a factory and then chipped into place in July 2021.
Builders claim that 3D printing technology (also known as additive manufacturing) can create more efficient structures that use less material and weigh less than using conventional methods.
The bridge has been fitted with a network of sensors that allows it to collect data and build a digital twin to monitor its performance and health.
The digital twin will monitor corrosion, load changes, environmental conditions and pedestrian usage.
The original plan was to print the structure of the canal, with robots stationed on both banks welding the two parts of the bridge together until they meet in the middle.
But these plans were scrapped and it was decided to build the two-part bridge at an off-site facility.
Although MX3D is considered to be the world’s first 3D printed stainless steel bridge, other bridges were 3D printed from other materials.
In 2017, Dutch construction company BAM Infra built what it says was the world’s first 3D printed concrete block bridge.
Iain Ward, president of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies British Columbia for 2021-2022, says the value of the Amsterdam Bridge project is its demonstration of the full potential of 3D printing.
“This bridge could not have been made any other way,” said Ward. “3D printing frees the whole gamut of human creativity and enables designs free from traditional constraints.”
3D printing has a number of advantages, he says: speed, more efficient use of scarce resources, and the ability to build offsite in a controlled environment and then set up.
“In the future, 3D printing will be practical for more short-span pedestrian bridges like the one in Amsterdam,” he said.
Retired Vancouver developer and architect Michael Geller said, “Part of the fun people get to admire the bridge comes from knowing how it was built. “
The team that built it probably used 3D because they thought it would draw attention to her, he says.
“It’s analogous to solid wood construction, a new technology with a new way of using materials to build unusual and eye-catching structures,” Geller said.
He did not use 3D printing himself, although it is used by many architects to make building models.
“Some very skeptical people say 3D printing is a fad, but I see it as a technology of the future that will become more and more common in the future as it becomes more powerful and cheaper,” Geller said. “It’s definitely an emerging trend. “
To kickstart the trend, Canada Makes, a division of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, is working to raise awareness of 3D metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology in this country.
From 2015 to 2020, Canada Makes managed the metal additive program.
Canada Makes worked with 30-35 AM experts, who demonstrated the benefits, business opportunities, cost savings and effectiveness of AM to some 200 participating companies from across Canadian industry.
“Because installation can be expensive for many companies, the Metal Additives Program introduced 3D printing for companies that otherwise could not get involved,” said John Rodic, director of the Canada Makes program.
Part of the program involved a partnership between Canada Makes and Burloak Technologies Inc., an AM specialist in Oakville, Ont., And MDA, a US company that manufactures satellite antennas and communications subsystems.
The three-way initiative produced 3D printed titanium and aluminum parts for satellite antenna applications.
Rodic says the project has shown that AM technology provides accelerated and cost-effective solutions for manufacturing space parts.
“One of the benefits of AM is that it allows designers to consolidate into one piece a sub-assembly that would traditionally be made up of many different parts,” said Rodic.
The one-off piece allows for smaller packages, big savings, and designs that could not be created within the limits of conventional CNC manufacturing technologies.