Printed bridges: the latest in new technologies


The Living Force

World-first 3D-printed Metal Bridge is on the Way in Amsterdam


MX3D, which is a Dutch fast-growing company specialized in 3D-printing, has recently unveiled extra details about their world-first 3D-printed metal bridge that will be crossing an ancient canal in the Netherland’s capital, Amsterdam. The early plans involved printing the bridge in situ [on the spot], while further studies showed that the ancient canal won’t be able to withstand the stress. Therefore, most of the work is now being done at MX3D’s workshop using a top-notch 3D-printing robot.

The bridge’s design shows intricate undulations and a span with a length of 12 meters. The project is catching up with the schedule since about 1/3 of the bridge has already been printed. It is slated for construction in winter 2018 over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in Amsterdam.

The bridge, which will be serving pedestrians and bikes, will be under constant evaluation from MX3D along with a research team from the Alan Turing Institute. This is why a grid of sensors is going to be incorporated into the bridge to evaluate data involving the used materials, in addition to load limits. Other factors will also be tested like how the bridge would react to weather conditions, temperature variation, and pedestrians’ movement. The data gathered will be used on a 3D replica of the bridge so that the designing team can furtherly inspect its functionality to be able to fine-tune their designs for future projects.

“The 3D printed bridge being installed by the MX3D team next year will be a world first in engineering. This data-centric, multidisciplinary approach to capturing the bridge’s data will also mark a step-change in the way bridges are designed, constructed, and managed, generating valuable insights for the next generation of bridges and other major public structures,” Professor Mark Girolami commented – Chair in Statistics in the Department of Mathematics at the Imperial College London and the head of the program.

“It is a powerful embodiment of what data-centric engineering can deliver as a discipline, and I look forward to seeing the bridge in action from summer next year.”

Read more about MX3D’s technique here (three videos included):

Other news sideways related, this one is in concrete and already finished:

UPDATE: 3D printed steel bridge opens in Amsterdam -

3D printed steel bridge opens in Amsterdam

July 16, 2021 - By Senay Boztas


The opening of the MX3D bridge
- photo Adriaan de Groot

An innovative 3D bridge printed from steel has been opened in Amsterdam’s red light district.

The MX3D bridge, first proposed in 2015, was opened on Thursday by Dutch Queen Máxima and is now open to the public.

On Friday morning, curious Dutch and foreign tourists were taking pictures and walking across the swirling structure, which is clearly constructed in strips and ridged like the shell of a snail.

The project, which involved a list of prestigious partners including the Imperial College London, computing firm Lenovo, The Alan Turing Institute and Arup engineers, is also equipped with special sensors.

These will record all kinds of pedestrian and crowd behavior to feed a ‘digital twin’ of the bridge, which will help city researchers investigate all kinds of topics: from the impact of tourism in the red light district, via the numbers and speed of people crossing, to how the curious structure ages.


Close up of 3D printed bridge - Photo: S Boztas

Tim Geurtjens, co-founder of the company MX3D, said in a statement that a crazy idea had become reality. ‘A few years ago, we came up with the idea to use the robotic 3D-metal printers that we developed to print a functional, full size steel bridge. Together with the excitement of this crazy idea also came the realization that there was no way we could pull this off alone.'

‘We are very grateful that we had the opportunity to work with some of the top people and businesses in the field of robotics, engineering, welding technique and software development.’

Although printing and assembly of large sections of the bridge began in March 2017, the final placement of the steel structure had to be postponed for almost due [four] years as the canal walls needed to be restored.

The experiment will, according to Stijn Joosten, structural engineer at Arup, help open ‘a world of possibilities for architects, engineers, and designers, who can explore greater form freedom and create new shapes and structures which could not be created without the use of 3D printing.’
I wonder how long it will resist weather over time ? ( + substances via air pollution) … i mean how does the technology deal with micro cracks?
To help establish an answer to this question the bridge is under constant surveillance, thereby feeding a digital 'twin' of the bridge with the gathered data on all sorts of measurements. That will allow reliable prognostications for a longer future, as is their aim.

From one of the sources in Dutch (which I didn't mention in my post) I got the impression that this bridge, experimental as it is, will not have to last too long since it's a replacement for another one nearby that is to be reconstructed and maintained in the meantime.
UPDATE again: Amsterdam 3D bridge difficult to access for elderly and people with disabilites

Steel 3D bridge Oudezijds Achterburgwal
- Source: Lily Plass at NL Times

Saturday, August 7, 2021 - 08:15 AM

Amsterdam 3D bridge difficult to access for elderly and people with disabilities

A bridge that was constructed using a 3D printer was opened on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal in Amsterdam in the middle of July. It is the world’s first 3D-printed bridge made of steel, but stepping onto the bridge can be dangerous for the elderly and people with disabilities.

On one side of the sculpted piece, two large steps marked with yellow paint lead up to the bridge. Without a ramp or railing, accessing the bridge is difficult, or impossible, for anyone in a wheelchair or who otherwise has trouble walking.

It regularly happens that someone requires assistance stepping off of the bridge, according to an employee of a nearby store. “Everyone who sees that happen will help, but in the morning there is nobody”, she said to Het Parool (in Dutch).

The bridge can be a menace not only for people with disabilities, but also for intoxicated individuals. “Tourists run around drunk here. You can figure out for yourself what happens then”, Fabiana Jonkers said who has her atelier nearby.

“We waited a long time for the bridge”, a nearby resident said. “The bridge is a cool idea from a marketing perspective but the execution is questionable. It is dangerous now.”

The bridge, designed by Joris Laarman, was opened on July 15 by Queen Máxima. It weighs around six tons and will remain on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal for two years. The design of the bridge was shown during the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven in 2018 where it won the Dutch Design award, and also an audience award.

Originally, the plan was to build a small ramp to make the bridge wheelchair accessible, “but that is taking longer than expected”, a spokesperson of the city district said.

“In the meantime, we tried to make the situation apparent with yellow paint and a sign, and hope that was enough”, the spokesperson said.
LATEST: 3D-printed bridge in the Red Light District will soon be removed


The 3D printed temporary Stoof bridge over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, July 2021 - Credit: Milliped / Wikimedia - License: CC-BY-SA

Sunday, 5 February 2023 - 10:49

3D-printed bridge in the Red Light District will soon be removed

The 3D-printed bridge at Stoofsteeg in the Red Light District will soon be removed. The bridge served as a replacement for the original Stoofbrug, AT5 reported.

With the 3D-printed bridge, it was clear from the beginning that it would only exist temporarily. In 2019, the original Stoofbrug was removed due to renovations and was later replaced by the 3D-printed bridge, which was opened by Queen Máxima in July 2021.

Images of the world's first 3d printed bridge.
— Pixelz🎖️ (@1Tolufe) March 25, 2022

This bridge was 3D printed in just 6 months! 🌉via @IntEngineering
— Tech Burrito (@TechBurritoUno) November 14, 2021

The reason for the prompt removal of the bridge at Stoofsteeg in the Red Light District was that the permit for the temporary bridge had expired on November 27, 2022. An application for an extension was denied, AT5 wrote.

However, according to the local TV station, the removal of the 3D-printed bridge has not only been a matter of approval but has also been additionally initiated by the heritage association Vereniging Vrienden van de Amsterdamse Binnenstad (VVAB), which filed a request for enforcement with the municipality. "The 3D-printed bridge is an infringement of the protected cityscape," said the VVAB.

According to the spokesperson for the Centrum district of Amsterdam, the bridge will be removed soon, however, the timing is not yet known.

For the removal of the temporary bridge, some factors must be taken into account, which is not an easy undertaking, the spokesperson told AT5. "To remove the bridge via a pontoon over the water, it must first be lifted with a crane. The crane will reach the bridge on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal via Sint Antoniesbreestraat and Nieuwe Hoogstraat, " the spokesperson said.

However, the renovation of the Stoofbrug has now been completed. After the 3D bridge is removed, the original Stoofbrug will return to its old location as soon as possible, according to the spokesperson.
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