Watch: How 3-D printing robots will build a bridge over an Amsterdam canal

3d printed park

Joris Laarman

Machines have 3D-printed everything from fashion statements to weapons, but now the technology will be used to create infrastructure.

A Dutch design company plans to use special robots to 3D-print a steel bridge across the Amsterdam Canal, like this:

Joris Laaramfor MX3D

A company called MX3D, which specializes in using robotics to 3D print, and Dutch designer Joris Laaram are behind the project. They’ve also partnered with Autodesk and the construction company Heijmans to make the arch a reality.

The company wants to start printing the bridge on-site, in the center of Amsterdam, sometime in 2017, an MX3D spokesperson told Business Insider. While the group has the technology to print such complex structures, it still has to validate, design for, and test the bridge’s specific location, which has yet to be disclosed, the spokesperson said.

One thing that makes MX3D’s technology special is that it’s able to print with metals and resin in mid-air. Typically, 3D printing in metal is done inside machines that lay down powdered metal and zap it with lasers, one layer at a time.

The bridge project will put this technique to the ultimate test by having the robots print their own supportive railing as they move over the water while constructing the pathway.

And once it’s finished, people will be allowed to cross over  the 3D-printed arch.



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