3D Printing

Welding robots complete 3D-printed steel bridge

The bridge took four robots six months to print
The bridge took four robots six months to print
View 5 Images
The finished bridge measures 12.5 meters long (41 ft)
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The finished bridge measures 12.5 meters long (41 ft)
The bridge is composed of 4,500 kg (9,921 lb) of stainless steel, along with 1,100 km (684 miles) of wire
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The bridge is composed of 4,500 kg (9,921 lb) of stainless steel, along with 1,100 km (684 miles) of wire
The bridge will be subjected to load tests in order to verify its structural integrity, before being installed at the canal
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The bridge will be subjected to load tests in order to verify its structural integrity, before being installed at the canal
The bridge took four robots six months to print
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The bridge took four robots six months to print
An overhead view of the bridge
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An overhead view of the bridge

Back in June of 2015, we heard about how Dutch 3D-printing firm MX3D was planning on printing a steel footbridge that would go across Amsterdam's Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal. Well, construction of that bridge is now complete – although it still has to actually be placed over the water.

To build the bridge, the company used four of its MX3D-Metal robots.

These consist of a robotic welding arm that lays down a blob of molten metal, then adds another blob on top of it once it's hardened, and continues that process until it's created an entire metal column. By controlling the point in space at which the welds are made, it's possible to control the orientation of the columns, even getting them to interlace with one another. No supporting materials are needed, and quite large structures can be created.

The finished bridge measures 12.5 meters long (41 ft)
The finished bridge measures 12.5 meters long (41 ft)

The finished bridge is 12.5 meters long (41 ft), and took six months to print. It's composed of 4,500 kg (9,921 lb) of stainless steel, along with 1,100 km (684 miles) of wire.

Originally, MX3D hoped to print the bridge on location, with the robots starting at one side of the canal and then building their way across. This turned out to be impractical, however.

"The Oudezijds Achterburgwal where the bridge will be placed is just a too busy place to print," the company's Oleg Vishniakou tells us. "There are a lot of pedestrians walking by every day so it would be hard to get a permit for it. Also you'll need 24/7 surveillance at the printing site to protect the robots."

The bridge will now be subjected to load tests in order to verify its structural integrity, before being installed at the canal.

Source: MX3D

7 comments
Mr T
Looks great, but imagine the embodied energy in that bridge.
Louis Kahncrete
Will the floor be 3D printed as well...?
MD
The reality is that MIG (Metal arc Inert Gas) welding needs to be done in a controlled environment for quality control. Doing it outdoors makes it hard to control environmental factors such as wind and moisture.... Hence doing it indoors. If it lasts 400 years the embodied energy is minimal, if only 40 years, then it would be more efficient making it from hardwoods (new trees grow).
c2cam
@Louis - I was wondering the same thing. The article doesn't state whether the floor is complete. From the photos, it doesn't appear to be.
Expanded Viewpoint
It looks very beautiful, with those sweeping and graceful lines, but it looks to me like at least 50% of the material in it is totally wasted, serving no useful purpose. With a good crew of about 4 or 5 experienced fabricators, I would have knocked out a bridge no less pretty in about a month or less from start to finish! But someone had to make some kind of a statement with it instead of just getting the job done quickly and efficiently. Yes, the amount of energy involved in creating a bridge out of welding wire is quite horrendous to say the least!! And what was the cost in the amount of shielding gas during all of this welding? Did anybody factor THAT into the cost equation of this thing?? It stroked somebody's ego to do it this way, and that's the bottom line. Randy
BanisterJH
Waiting for the 3d printed container ship, but not holding my breath.
Nik
This looks very ''Art Nouveau'' so one wonders what the Victorians would have managed to create with such equipment. Perhaps a revival is overdue.