In Amsterdam, today, Dutch 3D printing firm MX3D cut the ribbon on its project to 3D print a steel bridge across one of the city’s famous canals using two modified, multi-axis robotic arms.  And the way that it cut that ribbon was quite befitting.

The project, begun by the Joris Laarman Studio and Petr Novikov and Saša Jokić from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), will see six-axis robotic arms 3D print a steel bridge to be placed across the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in the city’s famous Red Light District. Thanks to support and software from Autodesk, the systems are able to weld metal or print resin, in mid-air, without support structures or size constraints.  The project is also being boosted by Dutch construction firm Heijmans and Autodesk, who caught the ribbon cutting ceremony on Periscope, as well as TU Delft and the municipal government. Once complete, the MX3D bridge will be the first 3D printed bridge in the world.

Heijmans 3D Printed Bridge1

While initial mock-ups demonstrate the bridge being constructed on-site, because of the pedestrian traffic at the location, MX3D has opted for 3D printing at a construction site north of Amserdam, before installing the bridge.  There, however, visitors will be able to see the bridge’s progress over its three to four month construction period.  This first proof-of-concept, according to MX3D CTO Tim Geurtjens, could be the foundation for something even more impressive in the future, “We could immediately lay a bridge over the River Ij, but let’s try it first on a slightly smaller place.”

Once this project is complete, we may get to see another bridge span the River Ij, the city’s largest body of water.  More importantly, we may see the dawn of a new era of construction, reflected similarly in Amsterdam’s 3D Printed Canal House, the VULCAN pavilion in China, and the numerous other 3D printing-based architectural projects popping up the world over.

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