Opening of the first 3D-printed steel bridge in Amsterdam

On July 15, the city of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, inaugurated the world’s first fully 3D-printed steel bridge. The performance of the structure, installed above Oudezijds Achterburgwal, will be measured regularly by researchers from Imperial College London.

3D printing has developed considerably in recent years. And in the field of construction, we want to take advantage of this. Houses, schools, residential areas, hundreds of buildings are gradually emerging from the ground. There are also several bridges available. For nearly three years, pedestrians in the industrial center of Shanghai’s Baoshan District have been able to walk on a 26.3-meter-long 3D-printed concrete bridge. It is one of the largest 3D prints of its kind ever made in the construction industry.

First printed steel bridge

More recently, the Dutch capital, Amsterdam, got the very first printed steel bridge. The twelve meter long structure was developed by engineers from Imperial College London, in collaboration with the Dutch company MX3D. Inaugurated on 15 July by Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the development took more than four years. It took four robots, six months of work and some 4,500 kilograms of stainless steel to build it up layer by layer.

« A 3D-printed metal structure large and strong enough to handle foot traffic has never been built beforesaid Professor Leroy Gardner, who collaborated on the study. ” We tested the structure and its components throughout the printing process until its completion« .

exactly amsterdam
Installation of the first 3D printed steel bridge. Credit: Merlin Moritz

A guarded and temporary structure

The bridge is used to cross the Oudezijds Achterburgwal. A network of sensors enables researchers at Imperial College to: measure your performance regularly. This data will also be made available to other researchers who wish to contribute to this research project.

According to Mark Girolami, from the University of Cambridge, who worked on the digital model of the bridge, this constant data could allow detect errors before they cause damage.

The structure, on the other hand, should only be left for two years, after which the old bridge, which is currently under renovation, will be put back into use. Meanwhile, the city hopes this new bridge can attract new tourists to the surrounding district, the Red Light District, best known for its prostitutes and other coffee shops.