The Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) has designed the world's first 3D-printed pedestrian bridge. Installed in the urban park of Castilla-La Mancha in Alcobendas, Madrid, and made up of eight separate 3D-printed parts, the bridge spans 40 ft (12 m) and measures 5.7 ft (1.75 m) wide.
Developed in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of architects and engineers, the bridge is constructed out of a fused concrete powder micro-reinforced with thermoplastic polypropylene. Enrico Dini, a pioneer in giant 3D-printing techniques, was a principle collaborator with his D-Shape printer allowing for the creation of this novel structure.
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Large-scale 3D printing has become more widespread in recent years and many types of materials are currently being experimented with. A 3D-printed office building was constructed in Dubai in 2016 utilizing custom-built printers that exuded a cement mixture, while an Italian engineering company has been working on massive 3D printers that can build structures out of mud, clay or natural fibers.
Dutch printing firm, MX3D, is even planning on building a steel bridge across a canal in Amsterdam using an innovative robotic 3D-printing technology that allows structures to be created on-site, in mid-air.
The IAAC designers appear to have been inspired by the organic works of Spain's most well-known architect Antoni Gaudi, but the final product, which was inaugurated last month, does look a little like a styrofoam prop from a Lord of the Rings movie. It may not be the most elegant looking large-scale 3D-printed structure we've seen, but it is certainly one of the strangest and is likely to be a sign of things to come.
The video below shows the design of the bridge.