Building bridges by printer

Dutch officials have toasted the opening of what is being called the world’s first 3D-printed concrete bridge designed for cyclists built in the Dutch southeastern town of Gemert.

Work on printing the bridge, which has some 800 layers, took about three months after starting in June and it is made of reinforced, pre-stressed concrete, according to the university.

“One of the advantages of printing a bridge is that much less concrete is needed than in the conventional technique in which a mould is filled,” says the builders.. “A printer deposits the concrete only where it is needed.”

The eight-metre bridge spans a water-filled ditch to connect two roads, and in conjunction with the BAM Infra construction company was tested for safety to bear loads of up to two tonnes.

Meantime, a Dutch start-up called MX3D has begun printing a stainless steel bridge, of which a third is already completed. The aim is to finish printing by March and lay the bridge over an Amsterdam canal in June.

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