MX3D Smart Bridge: The world’s first 3D-printed steel pedestrian bridge has recently been unveiled in Amsterdam.
- The bridge was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, who used a robotic arm equipped with scissors to cut the ribbon.
- It was installed over one of the oldest canals in Amsterdam’s city centre – the Oudezijds Achterburgwal.
- The bridge is now open for pedestrians and cyclists
About the Bridge:
- The bridge has been developed by MX3D, a Dutch robotics company, in collaboration with a consortium of experts, and represents a major milestone for 3D-printing technology.
- It was designed by the Joris Laarman Lab and was first unveiled during the Dutch Design Week in the year 2018.
- The bridge was created by robotic arms.
- It is 12 metres long.
- It is made of 4500kg of stainless steel.
- It took six months to print.
- It took four years to develop and make the bridge.
- This (40-foot) bridge was created using a 3D printing technique called wire and arc additive manufacturing that combines robotics with welding.
- The robotic arms that made the bridge used welding torches to create the structure layer by layer.
- Several sensors are attached to the bridge.
- They will be used to monitor movement, temperature and vibrations across the structure as people go over it.
- They’ll also track how changes in the weather affect the structure.
- This data will then be sent to a digital model of the bridge.
How will this digital model be used?
- Engineers will use the digital model on the computer to see at how the bridge is doing and decide whether any changes or maintenance might be needed.
- It will remain in place for minimum of two years while the previous footbridge which was spread over the canal undergoes renovation.
- They will also use anything learnt from this model for future 3D steel structures, so they can see what worked well and not so well and apply that to more complicated building projects.
- Mark Girolami at the University of Cambridge who is working on this digital model said that sometimes any problems with bridge failures are discovered too late, so having this digital model giving constant data feedback means they can spot any problems quicker.
- During its two-year tenure, this bridge will act as a living laboratory.
- Its performance will be analyzed and monitored in real-time by researchers from the Alan Turing Institute’s Data-Centric Engineering Programme, Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge.
- Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands.
- It is also the principal commercial and financial centre of the Netherlands.
Note: Amsterdam is the nominal capital of the Netherlands but not the seat of government, which is The Hague.
- The City is built on Canals, 165 canals in fact.
- Amsterdam is colloquially referred to as the “Venice of the North”, attributed to the large number of canals that form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- These canals have been around since the 17th century and are still used by locals to get around in low-speed boats that take them from place to place.
- The bridges going over the canals are seemingly endless in number (a little over 1,200 actually).
Amsterdam was founded at the Amstel that was dammed to control flooding; the city’s name derives from the Amstel dam.
Originating as a small fishing village in the late 12th century, Amsterdam became one of the most important ports in the world during the Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century and became the leading centre for finance and trade.