Research startup makes plans for 3D printed bridge in Amsterdam

- Leadership - Jul 15, 2015

The Netherlands could soon be the launch site for some interesting new innovation in 3D printing technology. MX3D, an Amsterdam-based startup specializing in 3D printing research and development, is making its hometown the site for a new project attempting to build a 100 percent functional and fully 3D printed steel bridge across a canal.

The site for the bridge has not been reported to the public yet, but preparations are already underway. According to a mission statement from MX3D, the startup has partnered with US-based software production company Autodesk (creator of architecture and design software like AutoCAD) as well as several other European private and public supporters to get the project off the ground. Using Autodesk software to create intricate yet functional designs, MX3D plans to set up its 3D robotics to systematically build its way across a canal, drawing and welding the bridge from scratch onsite using molten steel.

“What distinguishes our technology from traditional 3D printing methods is that we work according to the ‘Printing Outside the box’ principle,” said Tim Geurtjens, CTO at MX3D, explaining the project. “By printing with 6-axis industrial robots, we are no longer limited to a square box in which everything happens. Printing a functional, life-size bridge is of course the ideal way to showcase the endless possibilities of this technique.”

If MX3D is successful with this project, building a stable full-scale bridge that is fully functional and well-engineered, it could go a long way toward bolstering the role of 3D printing in the fields of civil engineering and architecture. If this occurs, it could open up a world of new design possibilities for creators in the Netherlands and well beyond.

“I strongly believe in the future of digital production and local production, in ‘the new craft,’” added designer Joris Laarman in MX3D’s page dedicated to the project. “This bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form. The symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor to connect the technology of the future with the old city, in a way that brings out the best of both worlds.”

MX3D estimates that the bridge will be completed in 2017. Check out a video of the idea behind the project here:

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