Construction

The world’s first 3D-printed bridge is exclusively for cyclists

By Oliver Smith 18 October 2017
Photo: BART MAAT/AFP/Getty Images.
Summary

But it can carry the weight of 40 trucks.

Printed in 1cm layers of concrete, spanning eight-metres and ‘constructed’ over three months, the southeastern Dutch town of Gemert is now the proud owner of the world’s first permanent 3D-printed bridge.

It may not look like much, but the bridge is a groundbreaking innovation for the world of construction.

A joint project between students at Eindhoven University of Technology and construction group BAM Infra, printing its 800 layers produced no CO2 emissions.

“One of the advantages of printing a bridge is that much less concrete is needed than in the conventional technique, in which a mould is filled,” it said on its website.

“A printer deposits the concrete only where it is needed.”

MX3D's bridge is part of an experiment in figuring out how to print larger structures out of metal, all in one go. So far one-third of the bridge is ready. Image by Joris Laarman Lab.

Printing the future

While the bridge is only intended for cyclists, a testament to its green credentials, it was tested bearing loads up to two tonnes, or enough for 40 trucks.

And cycling is only the start, another Dutch company MX3D is currently 3D-printing a stainless steel footbridge which will span the Amsterdam canal in June.

Earlier this week we looked at how furniture, stairs and even homes are starting to be printed around the world.

Dubai alone has set out a bold plan of 3D-printing at least 25% of every new building by 2030.

The future is coming, and it’s being printed.