The 3D printed steel bridge in the heart of Amsterdam represents the next step in the development of 3D printing. It is a unique project which demonstrates for the first time the further potential of this new construction method: printing in mid-air and with a freedom of form the like of which has not been seen before. The project brings together knowledge of materials science, design, robotics, software development and user experience, which is why its builder MX3D is working together with the AMS-3D Building FieldLab.
Printing an intricate and elegant steel bridge for a special location provides the ultimate test for robots and software, engineers, craftsmen and designers. The bridge, designed by Joris Laarman, should be completed in 2017.
Drawing together knowledge
The steel 3D bridge is a project by MX3D in which a number of very diverse parties are participating, including the AMS Institute. This project is leading to a totally new design language, which is not bound to existing principles. It draws together knowledge of materials science, design, robotics, software development and user experience. “The design process is a research project in itself, as it also entails the direct technological development and its use on location. It offers a unique opportunity to explore the challenges in art and industry in this field,” says Dr Jouke Verlinden, assistant professor Augmented Matter in Context at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, TU Delft and project manager at the AMS Institute.
In the AMS-3D Building FieldLab, designers, engineers and other scientists are collaborating intensively, developing new expertise and experimenting with digital construction and the use of robotics, particularly for infrastructure projects. The lab functions as a centre for expertise and a platform for collaboration between the government, the business community and knowledge institutions. This FieldLab is established in MX3D’s new workspace in the former NDSM shipyard in Amsterdam.
MX3D works with industrial robots that can print in mid-air without support structures. The design is no longer restricted to the fixed volume of standard 3D printers and the robots are able to print both metals and resins as well as combinations of materials. This makes it possible to print strong, complex structures using durable materials. The technology is cost-effective and scalable and offers potential solutions in many fields, including the construction sector.
MX3D, AMS Institute and parties such as Autodesk and Heijmans are working together to build the bridge of the future. Designer Joris Laarmans emphasises the symbolic nature of the project: “This bridge showcases how we can use a 3D printer to create large, functional objects made of durable materials. The symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor for connecting the technology of the future with the historic city, bringing out the best of two worlds.”
Curious to see how 3D printing works? Watch the video.