World’s First 3D Printed Bridge Opens to Cyclists

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On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, the world’s first 3D printed bridge opened in Gemert, Noord-Brabant province in Netherlands. The bridge is a joint innovation of Eindhoven University of Technology students and construction company, BAM Infra.

These technicians worked on the bridge for three months, from June this year to September when the bridge was lowered into position. The bridge which was printed in six pieces was brought to the site, assembled and glued together then.

The bridge was printed in 1cm layers of concrete, and it is eight-meter (26-ft) long, connecting two roads – the N605 with N272. The bridge which is made of reinforced, pre-stressed concrete covers a water-filled trench and has been tested for safety to bear up to two tons of load. However, the bridge can support 5 tons of load in cases of exceptions. Although the constructors designed and built the bridge for bicycles, it can nevertheless bear 40 trucks.

More Efficient Than Regular Construction

The advantage of 3D printed bridge is that construction is extensively efficient than traditional construction. It uses less concrete, the 3D printer only fill in concrete where it is needed, and there are no CO2 emissions. Another advantage of constructing with a 3D printer is that it will effectively bring out the desired architectural design. It is now flexible with bringing out shapes then using the conventional technique.

BAM Infra director, Marinus Schimmel, believes so much in 3D printing, especially because it needs fewer scarce resources and reduces waste significantly. BAM Infra have vouched to look for more ways to enhance construction of infrastructure in the society.

A student of the Eindhoven University of Technology, Theo Salet, was impressed by the bridge. For him, even though the bridge is small, the fact that it was constructed by a printer is impressive.

Netherlands is among the countries in the world aiming to utilize 3D printing to its full potential. In 2016, a Dutch architect announced his 3D printer, which he is working to be able to construct endless loop building. A startup company, MX3D, has also begun construction of a stainless steel 3D printed bridge. He aims to finish printing the bridge by March 2018 and position the bridge over a canal in Amsterdam by June 2018.