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A view of a silver curved bridge over the canal in Amsterdam, seen from the water
Photograph: Adriaan de Groot

The world’s first 3D-printed bridge just opened in Amsterdam

The 12-metre-long structure was built by robots using 4.5 tonnes of steel

Written by
Rosie Hewitson
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These days there’s no end to the unexpected uses people are finding for 3D printers, from making football boots and musical instruments to building whole games consoles, prosthetic jaws and even cars. Now one Dutch tech startup has become the first company in the world to successfully 3D-print an entire bridge.

Spanning one of the oldest and busiest canals in Amsterdam’s red light district, the 12-metre-long footbridge has been manufactured by MX3D, a firm based in the city that specialises in 3D-printing with metals.

Aerial view of people walking across the curved silver bridge during its opening ceremony
Photograph: Adriaan de Groot

The MX3D Bridge was built by four standard industrial robots. Each robotic arm was equipped with a welding torch used to deposit the structure of the bridge in layers, with a total of 4.5 tons of stainless steel used in its construction. Taking more than three years to design and build, the bridge was officially opened earlier this month by Queen Máxima of the Netherlands (and is already being used by pedestrians and cyclists daily).

The finished article has also been fitted with more than a dozen sensors to monitor strain, movement, temperature and vibration across the structure, with data fed into a digital model that’ll help improve future designs. Paying a visit to Amsterdam sometime soon? Head to the Oudezijds Achterburgwal in de Wallen to see the ingenious thing in action. 

While you’re in town, make sure to check out all these really great things to do in Amsterdam’s red light district too.

And if you’re a fan of pedestrian-friendly cities? You’ll be excited to hear that famous streets all over the world are going car-free.

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