World’s first 3D-printed steel bridge reaches major milestone.

The smarter bridge moves a step closer to completion.

The full span of the world's first 3D-printed steel bridge is now complete and has undergone its first informal load tests. The pedestrian bridge, which will be installed over a canal in a busy district of Amsterdam, will now undergo full load testing before opening to the public later this year.

MX3D Printed bridge 2018 - photo by Thijs Wolzak
MX3D Printed bridge 2018 - photo by Thijs Wolzak

In 2016, the Foundation provided funding to MX3D, the Amsterdam-based start-up behind the project, to make the world's first 3D-printed steel bridge into the world's most connected and interactive 3D-printed structure. A sensor network is being installed by a collaboration of members, including The Alan Turing Institute-Lloyd's Register Foundation programme in data-centric engineering, who will turn the bridge into a 'living laboratory', providing real-time information on its health during load tests and after installation on the canal. The sensors will collect structural measurements and information on the environment around the bridge, enabling engineers to monitor its status and ensure its safety.

A virtual representation, or 'digital twin', of the bridge will use the data collected by the sensors to provide an increasingly accurate model of the structure. This will provide one of the first opportunities to investigate and predict how the elements of 3D-printed structures behave under different conditions over an extended period of time. Jan Przydatek, Associate Director of Programmes at Lloyd's Register Foundation, said 'Using 3D-printing in this way for the first time is not without risks, however, through the programme that we initiated with MX3D we will be able to demonstrate that the bridge is safe for use, create knowledge for better designs in the future and make data openly available for others to innovate.'

MX3D Printed bridge by Olivier de Gruijter
MX3D Printed bridge by Olivier de Gruijter

For more information on the project, see: http://mx3d.com/smart-bridge/

Video update from MX3D: http://youtu.be/STAHy6hTP14