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The First 3D-Printed Steel Bridge in Amsterdam Takes Form

For the past three years, the Dutch 3D-printing company MX3D has been working to build what is possibly the world’s most amazing steel footbridge. It’s made of a completely new type of steel, and spans about 40 feet. Commissioned by the city of Amsterdam, the new 3D-printed bridge will span the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal where it crosses Stoofsteeg, an alleyway in the red-light district. Currently, there is a temporary bridge in place.

What’s especially unique about this design is how MX3D decided to leave the surface rather rough. The 3D-printing process involves a welding robot applying layer-after-layer of steel onto the bridge. This creates a ribbed surface that can be buffed out which makes it look more like traditional steel, but the finished bridge will keep this raw appearance.

“What turns that combination into a 3D printer is the software and strategies we have developed for driving the robot, and for getting a grip on the very complex welding process. Simply explained, we melt a thin wire of just about any metal you would like and deposit that upon the last layer. This way the part keeps on growing. The material that it results in is strong, durable and homogenous, just about as good as the material you put in.”

Originally, the idea was to print the bridge “live” over the canal. But this ambitious idea — which would have made for spectacular viewing for passers-by — fell by the wayside, due to permits, budget, and time constraints. As a result, the team printed the bridge in their workshop. They also had to scale down some of the crazier aspects of the design, although the finished product still looks awesome.

Now that the bridge is finished, the team will next put it through its paces for load-bearing, using a variety of smart sensors and 3D scanners to test for its durability. In October, final tests will be carried out and the bridge can then be installed.

Source: Digital Trends