The Dutch Go 3D

Advances in technology are continuously on the rise, but the Dutch are ahead of us all, with hopes to build the world’s first 3D-printed bridge, a technique they are expecting to become second nature on construction sites.

3D printing is the process of making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically under computer control. The idea of 3D printing has been around since the 1980s, but recently came into popularity in the 2000s. With the current tech-savvy world we live in, the opportunities are seemingly endless, which is why it is no surprise that 3D printers are being utilized in this capacity.

A Dutch engineering startup company called MX3D plans to use 3D printing in addition to other forms of technology—robotic arms specifically—to accomplish this endeavor. MX3D will draw the steel structures of the bridge in 3D and then print the bridge over water in the center of Amsterdam. The robotic arms will slide across the canal as it welds the structure drop-by-drop. The startup business is already familiar with the use of these robotic machines, currently using them for smaller metal projects.

Tim Geurtjens, the CTO of MX3D, remarked, “Printing a functional, life-size bridge is of course the ideal way to showcase the endless possibilities of this technique.”

Since this process is typically used on small-scale ventures, the success of this bridge could allow it to open the door for large-scale objects and sustainable materials. It could also be applied to tasks that are dangerous for humans, such as working on a tall building. The bridge is slated to be completed by mid-2017 and we’re guessing MX3D is already planning their next venture!

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Katherine Johnson

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