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First part of steel bridge printed by robots is revealed to public

Pien Niehe Pien Niehe Europe Press Office,Amsterdam
21 September 2017

This week, the first part of a steel bridge printed by robots was released to public with this video showcasing how we approached this. Arup is helping MX3D with the structural design, testing and monitoring of this pedestrian bridge which will be installed following completion of the canal wall renovation on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal in the Amsterdam city center.

The Amsterdam based startup MX3D created intelligent software that transforms a robot and a welding machine into a large scale printer, enabling 3D printing of metals on an architectural scale. This new technique provides new opportunities for architects and engineers and has huge potential to reduce the amount of material needed to make large structures.

Arup worked in close collaboration with Joris Laarman to come up with the design in 2016, with the team defining a testing sequence to support design by experiments and prove the structural capacity of the bridge. In addition, we are giving technical advice on site, helping MX3D in the ongoing process with the municipality and coordinating with other technical partners.

This project is showing us what our future world might look like if we start embracing innovative robotic construction techniques. It is also a test case for implementing innovative construction techniques in the built environment. Many hurdles have already been overcome and some more still have to be taken. So far it has been a fantastic journey. ” Matthew Vola Mathew Vola Director, Arup

The MX3D project has only been possible through the close collaboration with partners Autodesk, Heijmans, Joris Laarman Lab and ArcelorMittal, Air Liquide, ABB Robotics and Lenovo. Sponsors are STV, Oerlikon and Plymovent. The public partners are TU Delft, AMS Institute (Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Studies) and the Municipality of Amsterdam. 

A challenging design

The project required several pivots. The initial design for the 12 meter bridge has changed significantly. As knowledge of the (safety) requirements, material properties and technical potential grew, a final model emerged in early 2017. This led to the final bridge design by Joris Laarman Lab.

In March 2017, the printing and assembly of large 1 meter bridge parts began. In parallel MX3D engineers have continued working on realizing their vision of autonomous robots 3D-printing infrastructure. The printing of the bridge is scheduled to be finalized early 2018. 

More information about the printing process can be found at the Visitor Center: mx3d.com/visitor