MX3D Constructs the World’s First 3D-Printed Steel Bridge

In Amsterdam, as the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal winds through the city, over 1,000 bridges have been built to help people get from one side to the other. The Dutch technology company MX3D just formally revealed the world’s first 3D-printed stainless steel bridge and will join the ranks of countless bridges spanning the historic canal.

The MX3D Bridge, developed by Joris Laarman Lab, is approximately 12.5m by 6.3m, and it is constructed from a brand new type of steel. Initially planned to be built on site, additional analysis determined that the structure could have placed an excessive amount of stress on the canal wall structure. It required four robots, nearly 4,500kg of stainless steel, about 1,100km of wire, and six months of printing to make the bridge, which appears to be straight out of a science-fiction movie.

To service both cyclists and pedestrians, the bridge will also function as a “living laboratory,” with its overall performance to be supervised and assessed by MX3D and a group of experts from the Alan Turing Institute. A built-in network of sensors is going to be installed on the bridge to determine structural data including displacement, strain and vibration, in addition to environmental variables like temperature and air quality.

Co-founder Gijs van der Velden said: “[Amsterdam city officials] have collaborated with us, Arup, and Imperial College London to define a method for evaluating the safety of the bridge as, of course for a novel production like this, there is no standard code. Their open attitude towards such a new and unconventional project was essential to make this project a success.”

A handful of extra swirls will be 3D-printed before the end of the year, and the summer time will probably be used undertaking structural testing and finalizing the structure. The crew wishes to present the completed bridge to everyone in October – potentially in time for Dutch Design Week – and it will be ultimately placed in its along the canal in early 2019.