A group of designers will use an anti-gravity machine to 3D print a functional, life-size bridge in Amsterdam.
Apparently the Netherlands has become the hotbed for revolutionary architecture, particularly through the use of 3D printing. After following the completion of what may very well have been the worlds’ first full-sized, 3D-printed home, designers are now taking on another ambitious plan which will employ the combination of robotics and 3D printers. While Amsterdam has more than 1,200 bridges crossing the city’s waterways, one of those will soon be a bit different from the rest: the steel overpass will be constructed with a set of multi-axis printers that can draw structures in mid-air.
The machine, which is the brainchild of Dutch startup MX3D, will build the bridge over the one of the city’s main waterways, printing its own supports along the way. The anti-gravity apparatus will extrude in steel with special arms capable of heating up the metal to 2,732° F before welding the structure, resulting in a strong and durable pedestrian bridge.
Designed by Joris Laarman, the undertaking is a collaboration between MX3D, Autodesk, ABB Robotics, European construction company Heijmans and several others.
“I strongly believe in the future of digital production and local production, in ‘the new craft.’ 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,” Laarman writes.
The team has already tested the robotic printer by creating a complex metal sculpture of intersecting lines. That success inspired them to continue on with the project, which will include two robots working in unison — one starting on each side of the canal, both making their way towards the center.
Several designs of the bridge have been revealed, all of which involve a cantilevered arch. The final design, however, has yet to be unveiled. Both that, along with the exact location of the bridge, will be announced soon with completion slated for 2017.