Steel 3D-printed bridge complete

Materials World magazine
1 Jun 2018

The Oudezijds Achterburgwal, Amsterdam’s oldest canal, is one step closer to being spanned by a robotically built, steel 3D-printed bridge.

The world’s largest 3D-printed steel bridge has been completed and revealed to the public by The Alan Turing Institute-Lloyd’s Register Foundation, Amsterdam start-up MX3D, and Imperial College London, UK. The bridge, which was announced in summer 2017, is robotically printed, spans 12.5m, and is 6.3m wide.

It took four robots six months of printing to finalise the full bridge span. It consists of 4,500kg of stainless steel and 1,100km of wire. 

Following its public unveiling, scientists from the Steel Structures Research Group at Imperial are carrying out structural testing of the 3D-printed steel, as well as building a sensor network on the bridge itself to monitor health in testing and placement. Load testing has also been carried out. 

‘A crucial next step in the project will be developing the sensor network that enables engineers to measure the bridge’s health in real time and monitor how it changes over its lifespan,’ Professor Mark Girolami, of Imperial’s Department of Mathematics, said in an Imperial release. ‘This digital twin of the bridge will ensure it remains safe to cross in all conditions, and will provide valuable insights to inform designs for future 3D-printed metallic structures.’

The team expects the bridge to be installed across the canal before the end of 2019.