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They Did What?: 

3D-printed bridge to defy gravity in Amsterdam


Dutch robots are working in tandem to build this 3D-printed canal crossing.

If you thought 3D-printing was all plastic figurines and cheap smartphone covers, then we’ve got news for you from Amsterdam, where R&D startup MX3D has been given the go-ahead to construct a bridge over a city canal using 3D-printing robots.

Speaking as non-engineers, bridges are baffling enough as they are, built by some kind of hard hat-wearing wizards with a far better grasp of physics than we can even dream of. It’s just as well, because if we’re going to walk (or drive!) over a giant steel skywalk suspended in mid-air, then we want to know that the best people are on the job. We’re amazed then, if not slightly concerned, by MX3D’s plan to employ two robots working in tandem to print its unique canal crossing.

The mind-boggling bridge was dreamed up by dutch designer Joris Laarman, who will use steel welded together at 1,500° C (2,732° F) by the two mechanic arms. The robots will build rail supports ahead of them as they go, enabling them to slide along and build the bridge as they cross the canal. Once completed, the crossing will be safe to be used by pedestrians – or so they claim. We’ll let you go first.

“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,” said Laarman of the project. “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.”

We’ve covered amazing 3D-printing projects before – from cars and houses, to earbuds and snacks – but building a bridge on location is especially challenging. Learn more about the construction in MX3D’s video below;

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