Revolutionary 3D-Printed Stainless Steel Bridge Unveiled in Amsterdam

3 min

Amsterdam celebrates the inauguration of a groundbreaking 12-meter-long pedestrian bridge, built with state-of-the-art 3D-printing technology. The stainless steel bridge was designed by Dutch studio Joris Laarman Lab and constructed by MX3D, a Dutch robotics company co-founded by Laarman, in collaboration with global engineering firm Arup.

Amsterdam's 3D-Printed Bridge

This innovative bridge, located in Amsterdam’s iconic Red Light District, was fabricated from 4,500 kilograms (9,921 pounds) of stainless steel using six-axis robotic arms equipped with advanced welding equipment. The entire printing process took place in a factory over six months before the bridge was carefully positioned over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal.

The structure’s elegant S-shaped design and lattice-style perforated balustrades were created using cutting-edge parametric modelling software. This pioneering project showcases the potential of 3D-printing technology in creating efficient, sustainable structures that use fewer resources.

According to MX3D co-founder Gijs van der Velden, the integration of robotic technology in large-scale design projects significantly reduces weight and environmental impact, particularly in the tooling, oil, gas, and construction industries. Arup structural engineer Stijn Joosten added that embracing innovative design and engineering techniques is crucial for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Nonetheless, architect Philip Oldfield pointed out that the stainless steel used in the bridge has an embodied carbon of 27.7 tonnes. Oldfield, head of the Art, Design, and Architecture School at the University of New South Wales in Australia, expressed his concerns on social media about the high carbon footprint of the project.

In a collaborative effort with The Alan Turing Institute, the bridge was fitted with an array of sensors to monitor its performance and health. This data will be used to create a digital twin that will track corrosion, load changes, environmental conditions, and pedestrian usage, providing valuable insights for future data-centric design projects.

The journey from concept to completion has been a long one for the 3D-printed bridge. The initial idea was proposed back in 2015, and the bridge was originally scheduled to open in 2017. The original plan involved printing the structure in situ, with robots working from both banks of the canal. However, the final iteration saw the bridge built in two parts at an off-site facility, and its main span was completed in April 2018, with the deck printed in October the same year.

The 3D-printed stainless steel bridge in Amsterdam represents a significant milestone in the development of 3D printing technology for large-scale projects. It demonstrates the potential for creating sustainable, innovative, and efficient structures that push the boundaries of modern design and engineering.

Tags: 3D-printed bridge, Amsterdam, stainless steel, Joris Laarman Lab, MX3D, Arup, Red Light District, sustainability, parametric modelling, The Alan Turing Institute, digital twin


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