Amsterdam will soon have a 3D printed steel bridge, and the gravity-defying structure is going to be built entirely by robots.
The incredible accomplishment of modern technology will be utilizing 3D printing to construct the structure itself, and a multi-axis robot will be the one doing the building.
The bridge is designed by artist and design expert Joris Laarman, who helped develop the 3D printer and the robot that will be using it.
Two robots will be simultaneously welding small pieces of molten metal to the existing structure, creating lines of steel that will connect over a canal in Amsterdam. The end result will be a fully functional bridge that is not only the first of its kind but also a drawing point for the city.
“We research and develop groundbreaking, cost-effective robotic technology with which we can 3D-print beautiful, functional objects in almost any form,” wrote the design and production company, MX3D, on the project’s webpage. “The ultimate test? Printing an intricate, ornate metal bridge for a special location to show what our robots and software, engineers, craftsmen and designers can do.”
The 3D printed steel bridge in Amsterdam is seen as a major step forward for three-dimensional printing technology.
“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,” Laarman said. “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.”
Engineers and futurists have already hailed 3D printing technology as an advancement on par with the printing press, and its abilities are still being discovered.
In a 2011 story, The Economist noted, “Three-dimensional printing makes it as cheap to create single items as it is to produce thousands and thus undermines economies of scale. It may have as profound an impact on the world as the coming of the factory did… Just as nobody could have predicted the impact of the steam engine in 1750—or the printing press in 1450, or the transistor in 1950—it is impossible to foresee the long-term impact of 3D printing. But the technology is coming, and it is likely to disrupt every field it touches.”
The 3D printed steel bridge is expected to make its debut in Amsterdam later this year, with construction expected to begin in September.
[Image via MX3D]