Dutch artist and designer Joris Laarman had been working on 3D printing a steel bridge for six years. The MX3D bridge, named after the company founded by its designer around large-structure printing projects, was launched at the end of July over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in the center of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Measuring 12 meters long and weighing 4,500 kg, it is the world’s first bridge to be built in steel using 3D printing.
But the Netherlands has just hosted another performance in this area: the longest bridge in the world printed in concrete, with its 29 meters. Inaugurated on September 8, 2021, it is intended for cyclists. Its three arches span a body of water in the De Geologenstrook park in Nijmegen. The first bridge of this type dates from 2017. It is also located in the Netherlands, in the town of Gemert (again, it is a pedestrian bridge for cyclists).
Raw materials, reusable and without waste
Nijmegen’s structure, all in rounded shapes, is the work of Dutch designer Michiel van der Kley. It collaborated with the Eindhoven University of Technology as part of a more comprehensive orientation of the government authority in charge of public infrastructure, the Rijkswaterstaat. That is, building bridges in raw materials, reusable and without waste, which is the principle of 3D printing, or additive manufacturing. We don’t remove material, we add it on the fly.
The longest 3D printed bridge in the world from Royal BAM Group nv on Vimeo.
The bridge was printed in about thirty separate parts.
3D printing started in April 2019, it should have been completed in September, but has been delayed. Operations were carried out in Eindhoven, at the 3D concrete printing plant that Saint Gobain Weber Beamix and BAM opened at the same time, the first in Europe.
The bridge was printed in about thirty different parts, each of which required a day’s work. The concrete is applied layer after layer, but as is often the case in 3D printing, it is not a complete and uniform material layers, but a mesh structure whose concrete bands around the empty parts left are eight centimeters wide. width.
Then the different elements were assembled and linked by steel cables. A series of tests were carried out in the laboratory to test its resistance and measure the effect of stresses, to detect possible cracks and deformations. The bridge proved to be resistant to any test. Several others are already being considered elsewhere in the Netherlands.