A couple of years ago ECA Magazine reported about how Dutch 3D-printing firm (MX3D) was planning on printing a steel footbridge that would go across Amsterdam’s Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal. Construction of that bridge is now complete although it still has to be moved to its final location.

To “print” the bridge the company used four of its MX3DMetal robots. These consist of a robotic welding arm that lays down a blob of molten metal, then adds another blob on top of it once it’s hardened, and continues that process until it’s created an entire metal column. By controlling the point in space at which the welds are made, it’s possible to control the orientation of the columns, even getting them to interlace with one another. No supporting materials are needed, and quite large structures can be created, according to the company. With the MX3D Bridge project they want to showcase the potential of their literally “out-of-the-box” multi-axis 3D print technology.

“By printing with 6-axis industrial robots, we are no longer limited to a square box in which everything happens,” according to Tim Geurtjens, MX3D chief technology officer. “Printing a functional, life-size bridge is of course the ideal way to demonstrate the endless possibilities of this technique.” The finished bridge measured 41 feet long by 20.7 ft., wide and took six months to “print.” Its 9,921 pounds of stainless steel, along with 684 miles of wire, should last at least 100-years in Holland’s wet climate.

Originally, MX3D hoped to print the bridge on location, with the robots starting at one side of the canal and then building their way across. This turned out to be impractical, because the park where the bridge will cross the canal is a busy place, too busy to “print,” the company told reporters.

There are a lot of pedestrians walking by every day and getting a construction permit was likely to delay the project for years On top of all of that, the MX3D spokesman said they would need 24/7 surveillance at the printing site to protect the robots from the humans.

The bridge is now undergoing load tests to verify its structural integrity, before being installed at the canal, so we will keep you up-to-date on this innovative technology.

If you want to know more about MX3D and 3D printing for construction applications please visit their website at http://mx3d.com/.