MX3D, a maker of robotic additive manufacturing technology in Amsterdam has finalized the design for its 3D printed steel bridge, which is now on display at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands.
The bridge, designed by Joris Laarman Lab, will then be installed at its final location on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, one of the oldest canals in the center of Amsterdam.
The fully functional stainless steel bridge is built by industrial robots with purpose-built additive tools.
MX3D announced the bridge project in June 2015. After March 2017, after a 18 month-long process of engineering, designing, programing, test printing, and maneuvering through the legalities of permits, safety measures, canal wall renovation, the actual printing of the bridge began.
The company printed large parts of about 3-feet squared, which were then be assembled.
In addition to its unique method of construction, the bridge will also serve as a laboratory for data scientists. It’s instrumented by Autodesk, Force Technology, Imperial College London, Lenovo, and HBM who have banded to create a sensor network. Data obtained from these sensors gather information about bridge traffic, structural integrity, and the surrounding neighborhood and environment.
These sensors will collect structural measurements such as strain, rotation, load, displacement and vibration, and will measure environmental factors such as air quality and temperature, enabling engineers to measure the bridge’s health in real time and monitor how it changes over its lifespan. This data will also allow us to “teach” the bridge to understand what is happening on it, how many people are crossing it and how quickly.
The data from the sensors will be used as input for a ‘digital twin’ of the bridge, a computer model that will reflect the physical bridge with growing accuracy in real time as the data comes in. The performance and behavior of the physical bridge can be tested against its digital twin and the information returned will inform designs for future 3D printed metallic structures and ensures it is safe for pedestrians under all conditions.
People who walk over the bridge at During Dutch Design Week will generate the first data set. Data from the bridge will be used by partners like The Alan Turing Institute, which is the United Kingdom’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, along with Autodesk to build a digital twin model and sensor network that will use data analysis to monitor the bridge’s performance in real-time.
“The work on this 3D printed bridge will contribute to the future of data-driven engineering by monitoring the structure as thousands of people and bicycles traverse the bridge hourly once in place,” according to a company statement.
In September, Arup, the project’s lead engineering firm, along with and researchers from the Alan Turing’s Data Centric Engineering Program, have performed a successful load test of more than 10 tons September. The team then created computer models using the results. They’ll use the predictions returned from those computer models to demonstrate the load carrying capacity of the bridge and provide structural performance data.