Dutch To ‘3d Print’ Steel Bridge in Amsterdam

With robots that 3D “draw,” in steel, a Dutch company will “print” a bridge using 2700-degree stainless steel, over water in the center of Amsterdam within two years.

MX3D, the Dutch firm, claims it can 3D print beautiful, functional objects in almost any form, much larger and more efficiently than possible until now, using sustainable materials.

Printing an intricate, ornate metal bridge for a special location is the ultimate test for robots and software, engineers, craftsmen and designers. The bridge by designer Joris Laarman will be ready in 2017. The design process using new Autodesk software is a research project itself, synchronized with the technical development and taking into account the location. The project is a collaboration between MX3D, software giant Autodesk, Dutch construction company Heijmans and many others.

“I strongly believe in the future of digital production and local production, in ‘the new craft,’” Laarman said in announcing the project. “This bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form. The symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor to connect the technology of the future with the old city, in a way that brings out the best of both worlds.”

The technology behind the bridge

MX3D equips multi-axis industrial robots with 3D printing tools and develops software so that the robots “print” metals, plastics and combinations of materials in virtually any format. From large construction to small part, with this technique MX3D can 3D print strong, complex structures of durable material. The new technique is cost-effective and scalable, more than current 3D printing methods, and offers creative robot production solutions for art, construction and more.

“What distinguishes our technology from traditional 3D printing methods is that we work according to the ‘Printing Outside the box’ principle,” said Tim Geurtjens, chief technology officer for MX3D.

“The MX3D platform is a potential game changer,” said Maurice Conti, Autodesk’s director strategic innovation. “Breaking free of the traditional limitations of additive manufacturing – small size prints and poor material performance – this technology opens up possibilities for architectural-scale, relatively low-cost, metal structures that are as complex as the designer’s imagination.”